I don’t like change much, and I don’t handle even good changes easily. I like my transitions nice and slow, so I can get used to just one small change at a time. And I prefer to know what’s coming in advance so I can mentally prepare.

Is it any surprise that I approached change in my marriage by taking baby steps?

When I first learned about the miracle of Jesus healing the paralyzed man and telling him simply to pick up his mat and go home, I really didn’t understand it. How can his atrophied muscles work? How can you just go home after being healed instead of hanging around and rejoicing in the healing?

“Go home” made it sound like just an ordinary day instead of one that included a miracle and transformed a life. I have been less astonished by the fact that Jesus healed this man than I have been by the fact that the man simply accepted this unexpected miracle, picked up his mat, and walked home.

I have often thought that if I were the man being healed, my response might have been “but wait . . . I’m not ready yet.”

It is easy for me to take credit for transforming my marriage. After all, I have worked hard. I’ve faced my sins and a selfish heart, I have repented and asked for forgiveness, and I have learned to be a better wife and a better daughter of God.

Despite my own effort and the time it has taken, I know that the change in my marriage is no less a miracle than had it taken place overnight. God softened my heart, He showed me where to read, and He helped me keep going over months and months when it seemed that I wasn’t making any progress at all.

Mostly, I think of the miracle wrought in my marriage as one that God performed over time. However, as much as I prefer my change to take place slowly, there were many moments when I acted in a new way with no planning or warning at all.

Jesus never told me to pick up my mat and walk home, but I did hear many other things that seemed just as unlikely: touch your husband, welcome him into your body, now (even though it was broad daylight), and let him see you.

Actions that had paralyzed me for years became like nothing in an instant.

I could feel my body resisting and responding as it had learned to do over two decades, I would then hear God’s instruction, and my atrophied sexual self would do what had been commanded with no resistance on my part. It was a miracle, right in the middle of an ordinary day.

I still dragged my feet and struggled with a lot of things, but I also experienced quite a few of these inexplicable transformative moments that surely were miracles.

As you look at your marriage and see the areas that need healing, do you pray for God’s touch? Do you welcome God’s miracle in your marriage? Are you ready to do the things you are commanded to do? Or, are you the woman saying, “but wait . . . I’m not ready yet”?

Do you sometimes hear God telling you to reach out to your husband, to accept his sexual advances, to enjoy your husband’s touch? Do you pick up your mat and go, or do you sit and wring your hands over how hard it is and how you aren’t ready?

A reader has given me permission to share what she wrote in a recent email to me:

I felt lead to share and perhaps you have written on this passage before, where Jesus asks the sick man–“Do you want to be well?” Well, as I was lying in bed in my jammies, my hubby naked when I asked the Lord, “God help me!” Holy Spirit whispers–“Take up your mat and walk translates to you, take off your clothes and do it!” Healing begun…

I want to challenge you to think about how “take up your mat” would translate in your marriage. What does it mean in your marriage to pick up your mat and go? What do you need to do to accept the transformation God may already be making in your marriage?

Image courtesy of nuttakit /

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One Thought on “Take Up Your Mat

  1. Nunia bizness on June 29, 2014 at 10:05 pm said:

    In hopes to help with clarification, I wanted to give me two cents:
    For my wife, currently, this has simply equated to just simply refraining from saying, “No” ; unfortunately, this VERY MUCH still involves avoidance and neglect. It appears that as long as she doesn’t allow herself to be placed in a situation that forces her with the “yes or no” decision then she has fulfilled her Godly duty simply because I didn’t track her down for a moment of “sex”.
    (I purposefully wrote that in place of “true intimacy”).
    I’ve ALWAYS looked at love as an action word very similar to following the command of “picking up your mat and walking”.
    As long as a person believes they do not “have” to do ANY action and/or simply lie there in submission then it’s not reciprocating love at all. There isn’t any love that is shared and freely given.
    If we look at love as a trinket that we’re physically handing over to someone then we can reason the transaction within our simple minds; unfortunately, because love is an action that takes place, we tend to believe a lie that it is an emotion that can be EASILY swayed by money, desire, times of the day, scenery, and whatever excuse we choose for the moment.
    Love is the giving of your SELF; when both spouses are doing that then there Christ resides.

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