“…And Caleb said unto her, ‘What wouldest thou?’”
King James Version
“Anyone who…thinks that, through her own words and actions, she initiates and controls the connections between herself and God – must not have much experience of God’s boundless affection for even the grudgingest of creatures.”
What would it mean to me to hear my heavenly Father say, “What will you have Me do for you?”
What specifically would I tell Him I want Him to do in my life?
“God’s gifts put (woman’s) best dreams to shame.”
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
“When Jesus saw him lying, and knew that he had been now a long time, ‘in that case,’ He saith unto him, ‘Wouldest thou be made whole?’”
John 5: 6
American Standard Version
The New Testament contains a record, in the four Gospels, of the miraculous healings performed by Jesus during His ministry on earth. If there is one that really touches my heart, it is the story recorded by the disciple John in John 5: 1-9.
At this time in history, there was the misconception, which was propagated by the religious leaders, that illness was the blight of God – punishment for your own or your family’s sins. Sadly, from this misguided notion, other false views of God were rained down on the innocent and in John 5 we find that around the pool of Bethesda, under the five porches surrounding the water, the sick were brought for healing, because as legend had the story, when the water in the pool was troubled or moving, the first one into the pool would be healed.
Obviously, if you had help or you could move quickly, your chance of getting into the pool was greater. So, the man described in John 56:6, who had been crippled for 38 years, had little chance of being given the healing he longed for.
But one day, along came Jesus. John 5:6 tells us that, “Jesus saw him lying, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, and He (Jesus) said to him, “Wouldest thou be made whole?”
You almost wonder about this question for doesn’t the answer seem obvious. After 38 years of suffering and hoping and longing, I know what my answer would be, without question, “Yes!”
You might be saying, “What does this story have to do with Caleb and Achsah in the book of Joshua. It has plenty, for we find in Joshua 15: 18, that the same word, “wouldest” makes an appearance.
In review, Othniel had been given the hand of Caleb’s daughter, Achsah in marriage. After the wedding, they decided to go to Caleb with a request, Furthermore, it was Achsah who said, “Let me ask my dad for the field.” Her husband agreed and off they went to see her father.
But a very interesting thing happened. Joshua 15: 18 records that before Achsah got one word out of her mouth, her father Caleb said, “What wouldest thou?” In doing some research on the archaic word, “wouldest,” I found it means “What will thou?” Or as you and I might say today, “What is your will or desire or need.” However, there’s more. This word “wouldest” also reflects “intent.”
In other words, before Achsah ever asked her dad for anything, he intended to honor her request. That’s what the earthly father, Caleb, did and lest you think our heavenly Father isn’t as generous, let me remind you of the promise recorded by the prophet Isaiah, “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear” (Isaiah 65: 24, K.J.V.) . Does this behavior sound familiar?
It should, for before his daughter Achsah even “asked” for anything, her father intended to grant her request. Just as God intends to do the will of His daughters and sons on earth.
There’s more. In order to give you and me a tangible, real-life example of how our heavenly Father “wouldest” grant the needs of our hearts, Jesus came to earth. Throughout His ministry, He reflected the Father’s generous heart and willingness to do what His daughters and sons asked. At the pool of Bethesda, where we see a desperate man, disabled for 38 years, totally unable to help himself, we find Jesus asking the “wouldest thou” question, again.
“Wouldest thou be whole?” You might think there’s no relationship between a daughter asking her father for a piece of property and a son asking God for healing. I invite you to come back tomorrow to find out how these two requests are related. But for today, suffice it to say that before either of these children had asked their father, their requests were granted for the intent of both fathers was to supply the need before the request was ever made.
If ever you have had a hesitation in coming to the Father with your needs, those days should be in the past!! For the reception that awaits every child of God, are the words, “What wouldest thou?”
I want to end our devotional today with this first stanza of a prayer by Terry Oakley called Compelled:
“He couldn’t help himself,
he had to beg
He was so desperate
to be clean
Jesus, when we cannot help
ourselves and have to cry out,
so anxious are we
to be healed
You stretch out,
and we are Yours.”
Compelled, we come to our Father with our requests for healing and wholeness and before the words escape our lips, our Father says, “What is it that you intend that I will do for you?” PRAISE GOD for the Father’s generous, loving kindness.
“Telling God what I want is like throwing the world into the pool of Divinity and seeing what happens to it.”
More Than We Can Dream Of
“We thank you, God
because you give us
more than we would ever dream of asking:
daily bread and shared meals that become feasts,
the breath of life and voices to celebrate,
the understanding of our history
And the hope of our future.
Work we can do, and time to be recreated,
people to love and trust,
people who love and trust us,
gifts and responsibilities.
We thank you, God
because you ask of us
more than we dream of giving:
skills we have never developed,
care for a world whose problems we cannot solve,
listening which hurts us,
giving which leaves us empty-handed,
love which makes us vulnerable
faith which seems impossible.
But you do not ask us to be supermen and women.
You challenge us to be human,
Give us the courage to be human
because you yourself became human
and lived our lives.
knowing our imperfections,
sharing our joy and pain,
making us your people
so that we can say together,
Jan S. Packard