There are times I’ve been carried on a stretcher, unable to walk where I needed to go, and there have also been times I have helped carry a “stretcher” with a friend aboard where he or she needed to go. Though one of the stretcher times for me was a literal stretcher from our wrecked one ton suburban to the ambulance and ER, (I was miraculously ok, albeit sore with a case of whiplash and bruised ribs, after the full speed blow of a semi broadsided my side of the car giving me a couple full twirls), most of the stretcher times for me weren’t literal. These have been times when I needed the emotional support of a friend to get through a hard time. I’m sure you’ve had those times as well. God is faithful to provide those friends who provide the crutch or stretcher and ample words of encouragement and exhortation. A stretcher situation requires some coordinated efforts between more than one person, but even if it’s just one friend with a crutch, it’s enough to get me through.
In the Bible, (Luke 5:17-26) there is a story of a man who was carried on a stretcher by his friends to seek healing from Jesus. In between the lines of this story, it’s easy to see that here were some friends who left enough margin in their lives for helping someone. And they had enough strength, courage and determination to try the rooftop route when they couldn’t squeeze through the crowd at the door. They weren’t looking for the first excuse out of this job. This roof didn’t just have a stretcher sized hole in it. They had to remove roof tiles, and presumably hung around long enough to fix the roof as well. I doubt they had the ropes in their back pockets to lower him down. This endeavor, as most endeavors do, started to grow larger on them. But they pressed on. And Jesus healed the man based on “their” faith. Wow…what a thought that Jesus is willing to heal a man based on his own, possibly weakened, faith combined with his friends.
I am so thankful for friends and family who lend a crutch or provide a stretcher when I need it. What I don’t need is tale bearers. And who does? Our prayers and faith should have “feet” that spur us on to good deeds of encouragement. One of my favorite songs is “Carried to the Table” by Leeland.
Christ is my ultimate “stretcher” bearer. Actually, He doesn’t even need a stretcher to carry me. He carries me to the table of communion with His strong arms and He’ll carry me (and all who trust in Him as Savior) to the table at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. A table where I don’t belong, but He says I do. “Have you had a crutch or stretcher provided for you when you couldn’t do it alone? Have you lent one? Do you know the One who will carry you to the ultimate table where you can’t go without His invitation?