Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Follow the Leader

Life is hard. We make plans, pour our hearts into things, and sometimes, they just don’t work out the way we want them to. It is so easy to become discouraged when we truly believe we were seeking wisdom and guidance from the Lord, following His leading along the way, only to have our plans come to an unexpected and disappointing end.

What do you do when this scenario plays out in your life? As I see it, there are two roads we can go down as we struggle to make sense of and respond to life’s disappointments. The first is to become discouraged, and to take the road of giving up. What’s the point of trying, when every attempt ends in failure? This road is fairly easy to travel. When you’ve given up the fight, there are no more blows to endure, no more hills to climb, no deep waters to navigate. This road is pretty crowded, and you can just get lost among all the others who have given up and are now strolling aimlessly with you. 

But there is another road we can choose when life delivers disappointment. It is the road of perseverance. This road is less crowded, but there are some great people on it. Paul is there, way up ahead. Always fighting the good fight and keeping his footing in the race, he chose this road long ago and never left it. Peter is there too, encouraging his fellow travelers (yourself included) to be strong in the face of persecution. Timothy is there, wielding the sword of the Spirit. David is there, and so are Moses and Jacob. Sinners all, though they often failed, they each ultimately chose the road of perseverance.

Also on this road, way up in the distance, the leader of the whole crowd of persevering saints, is Christ Himself. He leads gently and lovingly, never abandoning His followers, even when they are slow or seem to be stalled out. Sometimes, they consider turning back, or look longingly over at the easy road, where others have given up the fight. But He patiently circulates among them, reminding them of His love for them, and encouraging them in their walk. Sometimes, he sends Peter or Paul, Moses or James to tell them the Truth. Some are slowed down by heavy burdens of guilt and shame. These he offers His easy yoke in exchange for their weary load so that they can travel more easily.

Are you disappointed and frustrated today?  Are you at a fork in the road of life, weary of the struggle to do right and to honor God with your response to trials? If so, I’d like to invite you to join this band of weary saints who are doing their best to follow their Leader. The Holy Spirit travels on this road and refreshes the saints, always at just the right time. Though this road may be harder, there is sweet fellowship along the way, and there are great rewards at the end. If you are weary today, check in with Paul about how to persevere (Romans 12:12; Colossians 1:11-12; Galatians 6:9). Ask Peter how he kept his faith in the face of persecutions (1 Peter 4:12; 4:16). Ask the Lord how to resist temptation (Luke 4:1-11) when you are feeling weak.

Also, remember that there are others behind you on this road. They may be newer to this struggle, weaker than you, and tempted to turn back. Reach back to them, even if it is with what seems like the last of your strength. Together, you can strike out again, encouraging one another in this long haul toward Home (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Proverbs 27:17).

Yes, life is hard, but it is also a very brief pilgrimage on the way to Glory. Don’t give up, sister! God has called you to serve Him, and if you’re still breathing in and out, you’re not finished! Stay on that road of perseverance, in good company with other weak and weary saints. You Leader will never leave you or forsake you, so contentment is yours for the asking (Hebrews 13:5). Press on toward the goal, and let’s continue to encourage one another. God has promised strength for today and hope for tomorrow. Hallelujah, what a journey! What a Savior!