Have you ever been lovingly told to get off your ass? I know we have a hard time conceptualizing love, so a loving version of a phrase so often used to scold might be hard to grasp. But “pick up your mat and walk” feels like that kind of command to me. For context, this is a directive from a story in the Bible where Jesus, speaking to a man who for whatever reason lacked the use of his legs, told him to pick up the mat he was lying on and walk. Spoiler alert: the guy walks and it’s a miracle and everybody cheers and high-fives. Countless sermons have been given on this story and how Jesus telling a man with disabilities to just get up and walk might have been a borderline douche move, but I’m not super wanting to dive into all that. For today I want us to think about that phrase with a broader scope. Not just physically walking, but how it calls us forward into something maybe we didn't think we had the capacity to do.
I mean, “pick up your mat and walk” feels a little demanding right? Like I said at the beginning, it’s kind of a loving “get off your ass”. That’s why everyone thought Jesus was being a jerk, like how dare you ask this man to walk who is clearly incapable and has been for literal years. But the command is rooted in belief, and not only that but belief without pity. It is encouragement from the front: “Come with me. Carry yourself because I know that you can”. And there’s responsibility in that command, all of a sudden you’re having to account for yourself, for your weight — the thought of which can feel scary when maybe for years, decades, your whole life, you built your identity around being Unable. Maybe your parents, friends, teachers, the bank, all told you that you can’t and you believed them. But you can, that’s the whole point. You can start a business, you can write a book, you can play an instrument, you can try to sing. There will be new responsibility and shifting weight in these new roles, but you can hold it. Pick up your mat and walk.