Carrying Each Other’s Mats

“Impressed by their bold belief, Jesus said, ‘Friend....’”

It almost doesn’t matter what led up to this moment, or what transpired after it. These eight words should be enough to convince every man who reads this that he needs others in his life who will have bold faith when he cannot or does not, or simply will not.

The passage is from Luke 5 beginning in verse 18:
“Some men arrived carrying a paraplegic on a stretcher. They were looking for a way to get into the house and set him before Jesus. When they couldn’t find a way in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof, removed some tiles, and let him down in the middle of everyone, right in front of Jesus. Impressed by their bold belief, Jesus said, ‘Friend, I forgive your sins.’”

Oh, and while you’re at it: “Get up. Take your bedroll and go home.”

Let’s stipulate the things we know to be true:  Jesus loved the paralyzed man – because He loves us all. The paralyzed man was a sinner – because we all are.

This whole passage is about who will carry your mat. You can be sure of this: There will be a time when your faith is weak or dried up. And you will not have what it takes to endure the season of most trying of times – not alone anyway. We are not made to go it alone. Jesus demonstrated that with the 12, and then with the inner circle of Peter, James and John.

But in this passage from Luke, we see it from a different perspective. This is not just a handful of friends ready to stand in spiritual battle beside their brother. As far as we know, the paralyzed man had lost all faith and wasn’t even in the battle. Perhaps he’d had faith that he’d be healed. Perhaps that faith crumbled away years ago. Does that ever happen to you? It has to me.

But the man had friends who said, “Don’t fret it, bro. We’ve got ya. We’re each gonna take a corner of your mat, and we’re carrying you to Jesus. We don’t know what He is going to do when He sees you, but because we love you, He is going to see you, even if we have to do something as ridiculous as cut a hole in the roof and lower you down with ropes.”

And so it happened.

Impressed by the faith of those who were carrying the mat of this paralyzed man, Jesus healed him.

Who will carry your mat?

Statistics tell us that most men, even those in the church, would have a hard time naming four other men who they feel close enough to that they’d expect their mat to be carried when they hadn’t the ability or faith to get to Jesus on their own.

Whose mat are you willing to carry? Those same statistics apply to this question.

We need each other, guys.


Posted on December 5, 2014 .

That Awkward Father-Son Masters Moment

I was ticked off when Kevin Stadler walked off the 18th hole of Augusta National Sunday and instead of embracing his father, golfer Craig Stadler, who was waiting just off the green, he sailed right past him, seemingly too upset that he'd bogeyed the 18 hole of the Masters.

Had Kevin parred it, he'd have finished in a tie for seventh. Instead, he finished in a tie for eighth. Big deal, right? To my judgmental eye, Kevin had blown it, in front of CBS' nationally televised audience. CBS obviously had expected something of a special father/son moment as its cameras followed Kevin and caught the awkward, wince-inducing blow off dad, who had finished his round earlier. It was the first time a father and son had played the Masters on the same year.

But when given the benefit of a little time, I'm usually far less judgmental than what my initial instinct might be.

Almost every time, I'm brought back to this point: How would I like it if my worst moment of the year, the month even the week, was caught on camera for others to see? 

I'd be embarrassed, that's how I'd feel. Every single week, I'd be devastated if me at my worst was suddenly broadcast to large, unforgiving, judgmental audience.

I don't know Kevin Stadler. I'd never heard of him before Sunday. I have met Craig Stadler a few times during the early 90s, when I covered the Masters for a few years. I remember the elder Stadler to be generous and kind. I imagine the apple didn't fall to far from the tree, but again, I don't know.

I do know that I won't look back at Kevin Stadler's 10 seconds of post-Masters fame with disgust anymore. Instead, I'll choose to offer grace. I know I'll be needing some in return any minute now.