It May Be Painful, but You Won’t Die!
I was talking with my dear friend Roger this evening. We’ve done ministry together for a number of years now, and I don’t know that I have ever met a man with a more humble spirit and more dedicated to helping others. In fact, serving others is his greatest spiritual gift if you ask me. He has joined me every step of the way, and was a great encouragement not only in our ministry work, but also as I progressed through seminary and then my doctoral work.
We have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of people come through our career transition meetings throughout the years, and we were recalling a number of people we have encountered who have suffered terribly during their time between jobs. And it would be wrong to think that Roger and I never struggled with questions of our own as we tried to shepherd those God had placed in our path. In fact, both of us have witnessed many situations that have caused us to ask God to speak more clearly into our own lives as we have endeavored to be good, God centered leaders of our families and our communities. And then, Roger casually asked me about my thoughts about the the impact of Jesus Christ on people’s lives when they fully yield themselves to Him.
This is a typical Roger kind of question. He always has a way of keeping me grounded – he trusts God and has a divine peace within him. I really enjoyed our conversation and his comment about dedicated, fully yielded Christians got me to thinking about a Bible story that addresses just that topic. Because there is a difference between being a Christian and being a fully yielded follower of Jesus Christ.
In the Old Testament, in the 21st chapter of Numbers, we are told a story about the Israelites as they were traveling through the desert in search of the Promised Land. They were complaining about the manna and accusing Moses of leading them out into the desert to die. Apparently, the discontent reached quite a level, and God sent finally poisonous serpents through the sand among the people. Imagine the situation – “fiery” snakes all around, no place to go, the travelers screaming in agony as they were attacked and finally, when they couldn’t stand it any longer, they repented and asked Moses to intercede with God on their behalf. The Lord instructed Moses to construct a bronze serpent and attach it to his staff, which he was then commanded to hold up in the air. The people were told that if they looked up at the staff, even though bitten by poisonous snakes, they would live!
It is not lost on me that the Israelites had not fully yielded themselves to God – and God lived with them! Think about all the things that had happened so far on their journey. The parting of the Red Sea, deliverance from more than 400 years of bondage in Egypt, manna from heaven to sustain them and clothes that did not wear out (including sandals) even though the people wandered for more than 40 years in the desert. Yet they still complained, and I have been known to do that as well.
So what are we to learn here? There must have been an important lesson in this story, as Christ even referred to this event Himself in John 3:14 when He said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up”.
I think God is letting us know that we will all have trials. He never promised us that we would never have problems. And sometimes, we are going to suffer, and maybe even get bitten – but we have His promise that all we have to do is look up and we will be saved! But no matter how often God shows his faithfulness in our lives, most of us still depend on our own efforts to get us through. So my encouragement today is to let go and trust Jesus Christ to lead your life – try to be a fully yielded follower of our Lord and Savior. There is great peace in that decision, but it is not an easy one. And remember, with Christ leading the way, there is no limit to what you can do in His name.
So onward, and upward….