Sunday, March 2, 2008

Where You Do Not Want to Go

“I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” John 21:18 NIV

The following verse indicates that this was a prediction of how Peter would die but Oswald Chambers uses it to discuss two stages in a believer’s life: The new believer who still determines her own course and the mature believer who has submitted her will and all of who she is, does, thinks and says to God.

Immediately before this verse, Jesus has just finished asking Peter for the third time if he loves him and, when he says yes, for the third time tells him to “Feed my sheep.” His words immediately following this verse are, “Follow me.” Could Jesus be saying, “Feed my sheep and follow me even though this will lead you to where you do not want to go”? I think so.

We live in an age of individual independence but Chambers says “We are built for God, Himself. … Since we became disciples of Jesus we cannot be as independent as we used to be. … He expects nothing less than absolute oneness with Himself.” I certainly can’t be one with Jesus if I’m going in different directions from him, can I?

I like adventure. There is something about facing the rarely done and/or the seemingly insurmountable and succeeding. One of my favourite things to do is to get into the car and drive for days on end, alone, through states and provinces: going places I’ve never been before, doing things I’ve never done before and visiting friends I’ve never met before. Although I grew up and live in the flat emptiness of Manitoba, I love the challenge of finding my way through the maze of highways and exits in places like Chicago, Kansas City and Dallas (I haven’t been to the east or west coasts of the US yet) and when I take a wrong turn I love the challenge of finding my way back to where I belong.

Following Jesus is such an adventure. Chambers says that God “will plant us down amongst all kinds of people and give us the amazing joy of proving ourselves ‘a living sacrifice’ in those circumstances.” We will find ourselves going places and doing things we would never have chosen on our own and discover the thrill of succeeding with the seemingly impossible.

Have you discovered the thrill of obedience?

Father, I want to go where you lead me and do what you tell me even though it often seems to go against everything I want. Please help me to remember always the joy and pleasure I have experienced in the past when I go your way instead of mine and keep me ever in your will.

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