“I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” (John 21:18 NLT)
The Lord’s forgiveness is what healed and helped me to cement my will to God’s, enabling me to learn to trust Him and rely on His presence every second of every day. Does that mean I’m never tempted to do wrong or betray Him? No, of course not, but by God’s grace and with His constant presence with me I find strength in Him to overcome.
The above verse is Jesus’ last recorded conversation with Peter and describes the kind of death Peter would experience as a means of glorifying His Savior. He would be crucified upside down because he wouldn’t feel worthy to die in the same manner as His Lord. What kind of love demands that kind of sacrifice?
The same love that nailed the only sinless, perfect Man who ever lived and walked the pathways of planet earth, to a Cross to bear your sin and mine.
Have you failed Him? I’m not talking about inappropriate language when you stubbed your toe. Have you broken Jesus’ heart with your thoughtless disobedience and betrayal of everything you know is right? Have you knowingly and willfully chosen to follow your desires rather than His? Have you ignored His pleadings to stop, to run, to walk away? I have. And it breaks my heart to think about to this day.
Would it be appropriate to say I’ve learned the “hard way?’ Yes, it would, but the point isn’t how I learned, it’s that I learned. And here’s the critical truth I’m praying you’ll receive – you don’t have to learn the hard way.
Most of the original 11 disciples didn’t have to fail like Peter. Yes, they all ran away, but praise God, they didn’t stay away. They didn’t deny they’d ever known the Lord, they just ran for fear of their lives, which, in hindsight, was God’s plan all along.
Where do you find yourself today? Have you denied ever knowing Jesus? Are you still running, for fear your life will be dramatically changed if you stop? Are you just going through the motions of respectability, hoping you’ll not be noticed as one of His followers? What’s motivating you – fear or faith? Confidence or cowardice? Devotion or denial? Only two people know for sure – you and Jesus!
What’s my point?
If you’re ever going to be effective and fruitful as a Jesus follower you’ve got to make up your mind! You can’t cower in fear living your life as though He doesn’t exist. “Practical Atheism” is what that’s called. It’s saying out of one side of your mouth you’re a “Christian,” but denying Him with your lifestyle – rarely if ever praying, reading His Word, or following His directives.
Yes, you may go to church, even serve, but your heart’s not in it. You’re on the proverbial treadmill of a faithless journey that will end in a place you don’t even want to think about, yet, undeniably, you know it’s true. What are you going to do about it? Will you continue to follow the dictates of your shattered spirit, like Judas? Or will you fall at Jesus’ feet and let Him heal and restore you, like Peter? Like me?
The choice, of course, is yours, but I pray you’ll learn, whether by the hard way, or another way, to just lay it all before the Lord and let Him have His way with you. With all that is within me, I assure you that it’s worth whatever changes you must make to gain forgiveness and a new heart that will guide you into an eternity with the only One whose opinion of you matters. Learn to love and trust Jesus – today!
Blessings, Ed 😊
One thought on “Learning the Hard Way! (Part 2)”
Thank you for this sharing of truth, for each and every one of us. To confront what and how my life looks like as a Jesus follower is necessary, even if difficult, has regrets or sadness, or just utter failing moments. I am encouraged as I know the same God that allowed His Son to die on the cross for my sins, He is the same God that is with me in every moment of temptation, even those when I choose “my selfish will” over His.
And, He gives me His Holy Spirit to guide, strengthen and help me walk in His ways. But, He doesn’t stop there! He allows me a body (His church) and community (brothers and/or sisters) to walk alongside me in support, encouragement, challenge and love, each and every step of the journey.
Thank you brother Ed for this wonderful reminder of our amazing and wonderfully loving Father, and our need to reflect on our individual journeys and what that witnesses back to Him in how our lives can be used for His glory and Kingdom.
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