Spiritual valleys. I’m sure we’ve all entered one at some point in our life. God feels so far away. You know you’re not where you should be but you’re too exhausted to trudge back up that mountain to get close to God again. You just want a break. A nap. The easy way out. I’ve had my share of valleys. Whenever I’m in one, I have the desire to get close to God again. But not always the motivation to get moving. To start climbing. If you’re in a valley today, I pray you would have to desire to change that. In an effort to understand how, we’ll be looking at one word used by Jesus in the NT: “Arise.” Jesus usually used this word in regards to either paralysis or death. Let’s take a look shall we?
Throwing Aside What Shackles You Down
Let’s start in Matthew 9:2, 5-7…“And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee…For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house.” These men had an active faith; they regarded no obstacles in pursuing Christ. Let’s be the same way. No matter how hard it is going to be, never quit pursuing Christ. Don’t sit idly by. Keep moving. We find two more similar stories in Mark 2:11-12 and Luke 5:24-25. I encourage you to look those up on your own. In each of these stories, the paralyzed man who is healed is told to take up his bed and walk. They have no need of a stretcher any longer. Jesus tells them literally to “stand up”—something that on their own is impossible. But by His power, He heals their body and gives them the strength. In the same way, cast aside what is holding you down. You may not be paralyzed in the physical sense but are you letting the world shackle you down? Is a certain sin in your life immobilizing you? Figure out what is dragging you down and cast it aside like these men did with their beds. And then walk.
Waking Up to His Touch
Now let’s look at how “arise” is used in regards to death. Mark 5 tells the story of a young girl who passes away as Jesus is on the way to heal her. Verses 41-42 say, “And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.” (another account of this is found in Luke 8:54-55). He took her by the hand. He touched her life and she awoke from the slumber of death. Her eyes snapped open. Her vision was no longer blinded by death. Her heart started beating again. His touch, His voice did that.
The next story is found in Mark 9:22-27… “And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us. Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.” Are you longing for change as fervently as this father? Ask the Lord to help you in the moments that you doubt. Through our belief, God can do the impossible in our lives. Everyone thought that the son had died when the spirit came out of him. But Jesus knew better. When no one else could his chest rise and fall with each breath, Jesus could. Is our life so stagnant that the light that is in us has gone out?
The last story is found in Luke 7:12-15… “Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.” In each of these stories, Jesus calls to them when all others thought they were dead and they hear his voice. Do we hear when He calls us? He took hold of their hand and He does the same for us as seen in Psalm 37:24: “though he stumble, he will not fall for the Lord is the One who holds his hand.”
Steps to Arising:
Luke 4:38-39 says, “And He arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simon’s house. And Simon’s wife’s mother was taken with a great fever; and they besought Him for her. And He stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and immediately she arose and ministered unto them.” Jesus healed her. He saved her. He gave her her life who better to live it for? Who better to serve? She realized that she was indebted to Him forever and she sought to live in a way that showed her gratitude.
Luke 22:46 reminds us that we are in constant danger of stumbling and backsliding: “And said unto them, ‘Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.’” Who better to cry out to? Who will better understand our plight and be there for us no matter the situation, no matter the time of night? Who will catch our tears and hear our cries?
3. Eat spiritual food
When Jesus raises the little girl from the dead (in Mark 5), he commanded them to give her food (verse 43). She had been healed. Now she must be strengthened in order to insure that there would not be a relapse. In 1 Peter 2:2-3, we find our source of strength: “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
4. Always be ready
Matthew 25:1-13 says, “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” We never know when Jesus will call us home. We need to be living like it could be today. Make every moment count.
5. Don’t be ashamed
In Luke 6, we read a story of a man with a shriveled hand that Jesus heals. Verse 8 says, “But He knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, ‘Rise up, and stand forth in the midst.’ And he arose and stood forth.” Jesus asks us to stand up. To make our faith known. Don’t be ashamed to share what God has done and is doing in your life.
6. Accountability partners
In Matthew 9, when Jesus heals the paralyzed man, his friends carry him in on his bed. He could not have gotten there on his own. Look for those kind of friends. The ones who will spur you closer to Jesus. Even if it means they have to carry you.
7. Return to God
The story of the prodigal son (found in Luke 15:11-32) is all too popular. When we try to make it on our own, we realize what we have with God. We can try to live our lives without Him but we will always be empty because He is the Only One that can fill that void.
Friends, I would like to close with John 5:5-8… “One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be healed?’ The sick man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and walk.’” You can’t drive a parked car. In the same way, don’t sit around waiting for something to happen. Look to Jesus, get up, and follow Him.