Assemblies of God Theological SeminarySeptember 2014
 Hopeful But Stuck


This time of year confronts me with an enduring dilemma. You may catch my drift when I say I am a life-long Chicago Cubs fan at the end of another miserable season! George Will's recent book, entitled A Nice Place on the North Side: Wrigley Field at 100, was a birthday present from sister. Only the wit and philosophical side of a commentator like George Will could begin to analyze the curse on my team. Will has famously said, "The Cubs haven't just had a bad year, they've had a bad century."  


This year is a particular challenge for me. The strategy to rebuild the Cubs, using a farm system developed through strategic trades and investments in young ball players, seems to have begun to yield the first fruits. Even the most cynical of sportscasters are saying the future looks bright. So, why does that scare me? Well, I've been down this road before. I have seen the promise of great trades, young ball players, and veterans coalescing into the first World Series triumph in a century. I'm at the edge again, looking over into the future and wondering if we are close. I also realize that I could never watch that long-hoped for World Series on TV (or worse yet, in person) because the stress would probably kill me. So, you see the dilemma I am facing! I am hopeful, but I am stuck.  


While the Cubs present a personal dilemma for me, the experience of being hopeful, but stuck is much more pervasive.  One of my favorite Bible stories is found in John 5. It recounts Jesus' encounter with a man who had been an invalid for 38 years. This tragedy had left the man at a final place of desperation that was a magnet for people without hope. People with broken lives came to the Pool of Bethesda as a last ditch effort that they would get into the waters of the pool, where it was believed there were healing moments signaled by a sudden stirring up of the pool. The encounter Jesus had with this man presents a snapshot of what most human beings experience at some point in their life. We all have the tendency to protect ourselves from further hurt and disappointment-even when an answer lies within our grasp. Jesus asks the man, "Do you want to get healed?" His response is not "Yes" or "No," but a rather obvious excuse for why the hoped for healing moment had never been his. Here is a man at the edge of a hopeful future that could break the cycle of decades of tragedy. The truth is that he had become comfortable in his loss and failure and though he was one breath away from a new life filled with hope, he couldn't take the critical step of faith. He had been hurt so many times before. His hopes had been dashed and trampled on. When that happens too many times, we don't play to win, we play to avoid further pain and disappointment


That story regularly challenges me to think about the areas in my life where I am hopeful, but stuck. I have to ask, "Is my dilemma, as I look at the future of the Cubs, just a peek into the way I live life: in other words, hopeful, but stuck?" Looking through the lens of my life-long support of a losing baseball team and my accompanying angst at the possibility of a bright future for the Cubs is a bit unnerving. The question Jesus asks, "Do you want to be healed?" is not just about the obvious, but about the willingness of a person to let go of a familiar, though self-destructive, pattern in life. The choice is between getting unstuck and trusting in an uncertain future with God's Spirit in charge or a pattern that is painful, but secure and predictable. In a very real sense, we all have our Pool of Bethesda encounters with Jesus and need to answer Jesus' question for our lives:  "Do you want to be healed?"    


But while I wait for that Cubs World Series, which will be in 2015 at the earliest, this fall is shaping up to have incredible teams participating. Think of a Beltway Series, a Rust Belt series, or an East Bay Series, or a So Cal Series, or, at least, an all California Series, or how incredible ... an all Missouri series!


Byron D. Klaus, President
Assemblies of God Theological Seminary


Take time to get unstuck!

Watch the video of the three messages by Jennifer Gale during
AGTS Day of Renewal Services.



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