DEVOTIONAL GUIDE: God uses us when we show up

Acts of friendship break barriers.

Rev. Steve Norby

Mark 2:1-12 is one of my favorite stories about friendship. This is the story of the paralyzed man who was carried to Jesus by four resourceful and determined men.

In this story, they cannot get access to Jesus. The Lord was inside a home that had a thatched roof. Mark records: “And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Jesus; having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay.”

Before we get to the miracle, how important are your friends to you? This month I have shared stories from the polio epidemic of the late 1940s through 1955. Here is a story of friendship:

“In 1953 at the age of 7, I was in the children’s ward at the University of Minnesota Hospital. Across from my bed was a large yellow tube called the iron lung. A girl, also age 7, was encased in this tube. The only part of her body visible was her head.

“Above her head was a mirror so she could see who was near her. I would go talk to her. Twice a day the nurses would take her out of the iron lung and strap her to a bed, which was like a seesaw. I remember feeling so sad, as while they tipped her back and forth she would scream in pain.


“I do not know what happened to her as after a few days I left the hospital. After 67 years, this memory of her in the iron lung is still vivid.”

That 7-year-old child was a friend to the other. Sometimes we fear involvement because it may be “none of our business,” but children rarely see it that way. She befriended by doing what she could. “I would go talk to her.”

As we face a different virus, friendships continue to make miracles happen! A kindness, a phone call, talking across the yard, filling a need these change the world for both the befriended and the friend. People are resourceful and I commend you for doing what only you can.

“When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’” It seems that Jesus did what only he could do – forgive sins. Unfortunately, when you “do good,” critical people appear doing what they do well – criticize.

When questioned in their hearts, our Lord would have nothing to do with their judgmental attitude. Making a point, Jesus proved that his words were true.

How did he do that? Jesus healed the paralytic with these words: “I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” The man stood, immediately picked up his mat and walked out.

Doing a good deed, Jesus is accused of a terrible sin. Except for the critics, everyone there was amazed. Jesus not only was a teacher of God, he shows us God’s heart.

That 7-year-old girl hospitalized at the U of M broke a barrier when she befriended a person in need. The four friends literally broke the barrier of a roof to gain access to Jesus for their friend. Arndt Halverson taught, “The Holy Spirit can’t use you if you don’t show up.” I would simply add, God does use us when we do.


Rev. Steve Norby serves as lead pastor of Calvary Lutheran Church in Park Rapids.

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