If you have ever had to use crutches you know they are both blessing and curse. Having had foot surgery a few weeks ago, I have been reintroduced to the fun of navigating through life with these sticks. I’m keeping score – only one face plant so far. Kim and I spent several days trying to rent, even buy, crutches. A friend came to the rescue. Another friend let me borrow a kneeler. Life is good. I’ve been challenged by one of our senior adults to a race in the church hallways. I’m in training now.

I’ve noticed that most often the word “crutches” has a negative connotation. Crutches symbolize weakness, a need you cannot meet without help. Unhealthy relationships, substance abuse, laziness, and stunted growth are just a few of the downside aspects of crutches.

When there is a physical reason for crutches, most people I know can’t get rid of them fast enough. Putting them down indicates a return to health and normal activity.

So how do we get rid of crutches? I love the stories about Jesus when He rid people of their crutches. Sometimes He healed them, but He would always urge them to take the first step, to throw away the crutch. Remember the guy who had been a paralytic for 38 years? It’s found in John 5. Jesus actually asked the man, “Do you want to get well?” Sounds like a silly question but some people cling to their crutches.

Jesus told the man to pick up the mat he had been lying on for so long and to start walking, He gave the man dignity and accountability. The guy could have just stayed on the mat, physically and mentally. He expected the man to take the first step.

In our world of so many broken people, we yearn to see people be healed in mind, body, and spirit. We have been called to help people get rid of their crutches, to encourage them to get off the mat and get back into life.

Perhaps you and I will get the opportunity this week. Let’s pray we’ll be ready.

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About Mark Wilbanks

Dr. Wilbanks became Wieuca’s fifth senior pastor in February of 2012. Mark’s father, Oliver Wilbanks, served as Associate Pastor here from 1966 to 1982. Wieuca had a tremendous influence in shaping Mark’s call to ministry during his teenage and young adult years. A graduate of both Southern and New Orleans Baptist Theological seminaries, Mark has served churches in Kentucky, Florida, and Georgia. He pastored Southside Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida for 17 years and Bradfordville First Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Florida for ten years. He and his wife, Kim, were married in 1979 and have two sons, Andy and Jordan. Andy is married to Lindsay and they have a son, Cade, a daughter, Ruthie, and welcomed their third child, Samuel, in October.

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