Alibis cannot take the place of action
All of his life he had been a cripple. For 38 long years he sat beside the pool of Bethesda. It was believed that at certain seasons an angel went down into the pool and stirred the water and then the first person stepping in would be healed. Passing by, Jesus saw him and asked, “Do you want to be healed?” Sadly the cripple replied, “Yes, but I have no one to help me.”

This cripple had become very adept at saying, “I would like to but I can’t because…” Our world is filled with people like that. On any given day you can hear them making excuses.

When some young man says, “I didn’t get to go to college, and you can’t do anything without an education,” my heart goes out to him. Then I think of Abraham Lincoln who was denied a formal education but rose to the office of president of the United States. An education is important but it isn’t everything.

Another person explains, “I don’t have good health and it has prevented me from doing anything with my life.” But then I think of Beethoven writing music he was never able to hear. I picture John Milton writing poetry although he was blind. I remember Louis Pasteur, paralyzed, upon whose research modern medicine rests.

Still another says, “Everything seems to turn out bad for me. I’m just unlucky.” But hard luck and trouble can make us strong if we have the courage to hold on. It was Jim Corbett, the heavyweight boxing champion who said, “It’s awfully hard to beat a man who will fight another round.”

There is a story told about a certain Arab sheik who was asked by a neighbor for the loan of a rope. “I can’t lend it to you,” he said. “I need it to tie up my milk.” Baffled, the neighbor exclaimed, “But you can’t tie up milk with a rope!” The sheik answered, “My friend when you don’t want to do something one excuse is just as good as another.”

It is so true in your life and mine. If we are looking for excuses to justify failure, they are easy to find. But no amount of alibis can take the place of action. This was the lesson learned by the cripple of Bethesda. Jesus ignored his excuses, pushed them all aside and said to him, “Rise, take up your pallet, and walk.”

And he did!

Rev. Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church, Temple where he was senior minister for 23 years.

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2010-10-07 digital edition

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