Now as Peter went here and there among all the believers, he came down also to the saints living in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years, for he was paralyzed. Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed!” And immediately he got up. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
Well, here’s a curious little story! It is told almost as an aside. There was Peter, seemingly almost aimlessly wandering about amongst the believers. Was his journey to Lydda planned or did he wander in here by accident? Did he know Aeneas was ill? Did he intend to heal him or did this just happen too in a “since-I’m-here-I-may-as-well” sort of way? Lots of questions but very few answers.
We know almost nothing about the place and even less about the people but this man is nevertheless remembered by us 2000 years later, at least by name.
As someone who likes to have things planned I am intrigued by the notion that this was an unplanned detour, and an unexpected encounter – what does it say to us? For those of us who like life to be planned and controlled it is good to remember that God may have other ideas and plans. He may suggest to us that we should take a course of action (a detour if you like) and that leads us to an encounter which we might not have had if we had followed our planned journey. Even in those circumstances, of course, we may still miss the point of our change of plan. One of the few things we can be sure about in this story of Peter is that he saw an opportunity to heal in the name of Jesus Christ. Aeneas’s status doesn’t matter, what matters is that he was healed, his expected future as a paralyzed man was overturned. No-one whatever their status is immune from the need to be healed at some point in their life and it may be that you are the one to take that detour and do that healing, physical or spiritual – transform a life in the name of Jesus and you will be following a good example
Compassionate God, guide our footsteps and amongst those we meet in our daily lives. open us to the possibilities for healing. May all we do be in your name. Amen
Val Morrison is an elder in Hall Gate United Reformed Church, Doncaster