He had heard Jesus was coming to town, and so he rushed to meet Him. He had a pressing need that brought him into the path of the Master. When he approached Jesus, a withered left hand tucked safely away inside his cloak, Jesus simply said, "Stretch out your hand."
The man was faced with a choice. Jesus did not specify which hand. He could offer his right hand, his strong hand. No one would laugh. No one would whisper or judge him. He could save face by giving Jesus his best. But the man did the unthinkable. He reached into his garment and pulled out his left hand. His withered hand. His powerless hand. He stood before the King of Kings and offered Him not the best, but the absolute worst that he had.
So often we are told that God wants our best. And, indeed, we should want to offer Him the best we have. But there are times when Jesus stands before us and asks that we give Him not our strengths but our weaknesses. For so many of us, this is the hardest gift we will ever give because it means we not only come face-to-face with our flaws but that we offer them up to the King of Kings. He deserves our best, but He asks that we give Him even the parts that we are most ashamed of.
The man may have approached Jesus with a withered hand, but because he chose to offer the King the most unconventional gift he had, he left the Master's presence healed, with two strong hands.
There was once a man who loved earthly treasures. As his life drew to an end, he decided to sell everything and purchase a single bar of gold – a bar he was determined to sneak into heaven. He loved his family but he just could not let go of his desire for wealth. When his eyes opened on the other side of death, he took in the splendors of New Jerusalem, relieved to find his golden bar had made the journey intact. Noticing how the man’s hands trembled with the weight of the gold, Peter asked,
“Sir, why are you carrying pavement?”
The man looked down in shock. Sure enough, he had sacrificed relationships with those he loved for something that was merely used to pave the streets of heaven.
We tend to carry the oddest things through life. We hold onto old grudges as if we will fall apart if we were to let them go. We remember every person who has ever wronged us and can tell our stories with remarkable accuracy. All the while, life goes on around us. We carry our bitterness like a treasure, rarely realizing just how much it has cost us in terms of relationships and joy.
We all have Peters in our lives who can help us to understand the fallacy of carrying unimportant things; we just have to be brave enough to let the blinders fall. Only then can we recognize how these burdens we carry are really nothing more than rubble.
When we turn our hurts over to God, He can place them under our feet where they become the very substance we stand on.
Rather than breaking our backs with the weight of our pain, it can be the level ground that we look upon from higher places. We may remember our injuries, but they are no longer hurting us – they are simply giving us a vantage point and are providing the ground that lifts us up.
What are you carrying through life right now? Are there things God has been urging you to release? Are your hands and back weakened by the load? When we offer Him the burdens that have left us bruised and broken, God can bring healing and forgiveness into our lives. It’s truly amazing the wonderful things we can accomplish when let the pavement slip from our grasp.