I don’t always have “super spiritual” moments with God, but when I do, I try to pay attention. I figure He wants to teach me something…unveil one of the many truths about His Word or His Character that I haven’t picked up on in my twenty-some years as a striving Christ-follower. On this day, it was during a morning bike ride (incidentally, hands down one of the best things about living in New Mexico – besides the fact that the sun shines 95% of the time and there’s no humidity!). It was at about mile 5 that I found myself thinking about a relationship that has significantly changed over the past year. It made me feel sad – and it made me feel disappointed. Then I started thinking about other relationships that have been disappointing over my short lifetime…
As I considered this, I found they all had one thing in common. It was the disappointment of the “not working out” that drove me to the feet of Jesus. Thankfully, I’m learning to get there a little more quickly now.
As I imagined myself at the foot of the cross, kneeling at the blood-stained feet of the One who went there willingly, I prayed to God: Lord, if I have to go through disappointment after disappointment in this life in order to be driven to Your feet…in order to constantly have my eyes fixed on You and on eternity, then it is worth it. In the Bible, Paul talked about having a “thorn in his side” that kept him mindful of God (2 Cor 12:7). Maybe life not turning out the way I thought it would or should only helps me to focus on what is ahead. Indeed as it has gone, the very things that I consider disappointments in life – unfulfilled dreams, broken relationships, my own shortcomings in what God has called me to – DRIVE ME TO THE CROSS. To the feet of a Jesus. To the arms of God. It is there that I recognize (again and again) that if I didn’t have Him, I would have no identity, no purpose, no hope, no future.
Then I thought… Is that what drove You, Jesus?
Your closest friends didn’t support Your vision. In fact, when You tried to explain to them what was to happen in Your death and one tried to protest, Your words to him were, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a hindrance to Me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Matt 16:23). After walking with You, ministering with You, being part of Your closest inner circle – they committed the ultimate act of betrayal. Your own friends. The ones You lived with. Taught with. Ate with. The ones You loved. They denied they even knew You – much less, followed You. How that must have hurt and yet You knew that it was for this reason that You had to complete the will of Your Father. I wonder if as You looked into the eyes of Your betrayer or the one who would say he didn’t know You, if that made Your resolve all the stronger. It had to be done. You knew Your short time on earth would have disappointments. Of course You knew. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt. After all, You are familiar with all of our ways…
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
Luke 22: 42
As I was riding on – miles 7, 8, 9… tears making the bike path just a little bit fuzzy, You surprised me with one more thing. Yes, You were driven to the cross by heartbreak and by the need of Your friends. Yes, You were driven there by the eternal purpose that You came to earth for. But You were also driven there by one more thing…
Me! – Who wouldn’t even exist for another two thousand years! And You were driven there for the very people who would demand Your blood. By the people who would mock You. Even by those who were indifferent. Even by those who are indifferent.
Wow. I was undone in the middle of the bike path. It was almost too much. Almost. Until I was reminded once again of Paul. As a self-proclaimed WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get), I can relate to Paul. He said, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Phil 3:12-14).
Father, when I find myself more concerned with the things of this world and whether or not I am getting my way or what I think I want or deserve, help me to forget the past and press on toward the future and to pray like Jesus did, “not my will, but Yours…”