Points to Ponder: Staying in the light on a dark night

Points to Ponder
Staying in the light on a dark night

Do I do the right thing or the "correct" thing? Do I just stay quiet and content like most everyone, or do I stand for a truth that may cost me my comfortable success? Why risk it? Sometimes the most troubling, most uncomfortable thing to do is the very thing God is calling you to do. The Lord understands.
"Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour. (John 12:27).
Jesus' mission on earth was right and good. Yet it would involve much pain, rejection, and sorrow. That's an idea we are generally not used to for ourselves.
We focus so much now on self-esteem, feeling good about yourself, doing what works for you, etc. If you believe you are a child of God, doing the best job you can is the normal standard; doing the right thing because it is the right thing is the right thing. AND doing the right thing may not earn you even a pat on the back. You may even get a punch in the gut.
Sometimes you will find yourself on the right course, doing the right thing. But as you go with it, you feel no peace. Have you ever felt uneasy, a sense of foreboding, or even a terrorizing fear gripping you - even though you are doing the right thing?
How do we approach these times? Compromise is so easy, but it's not the call. Take a proper perspective and draw strength beyond your own from the Source of real power.
"Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Though the Bible clearly tells us (particularly in John's gospel) that Jesus is God, we also know He is fully human as well. He is well acquainted with the challenges of human nature, yet He was never overpowered by it or led by its tendencies. Though tempted, He never succumbed to sin.
Our desire and basic instinct is for self-preservation. It is so strong at times that we may find ourselves becoming gripped in a defensive web of fear. So determined not to die, we cease to live. I believe that Jesus was fighting, especially in the garden of Gethsemane, with the natural human response to what was coming in a matter of hours.
When you have sought the Lord and have His will for your course as best as you can understand it, be sure that you will face opposition. Sometimes the circumstances in which you find yourself press hard upon you. If your toughest opponents are people you love, you can find the instinct of self-preservation rising up to protect a multitude of self interests: relationships, potential future opportunities, your own reputation in the eyes of people you respect, and then of course the basic desire to avoid pain and sacrifice.
We often admire the boldness of the apostles in the early church (in the Book of Acts). They'd given up everything material to follow Jesus.
In America, the Christians today are relatively wealthy and comfortable. We think we're living sacrificially if we go without cable TV, or have only one car (true martyrs take the bus), or attend a church with no air conditioning in July.
Jesus said it's hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. And it's no wonder, because if the saints of 2000 years ago could see the stuff we call "necessities of life" today, they'd think heaven had come to earth. Think of this when you use your indoor plumbing in January.
Sacrifice is a relative term. If we really pursue the right course for the right reasons it is quite likely we will become acquainted with whole new levels of the meaning of that word. But remember Jesus. Humble, yet most highly esteemed even among unbelievers. Had no material wealth or comforts, yet full of joy (John 10:10-12); died as a despised criminal, yet rose from the grave as the King of the universe (Matthew 28:18 and Philippians 2:5-11); thus we are called to be disciples and lead others to follow Him as well (Acts 1:8).
Darkness is a strong opponent. Darkness is also natural. But we have the light Who is supernatural (John 12:35-36).
"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship, 12624 Trinity Church Drive, Clear Spring, MD (1/4 mile east of Clear Spring on Rt. 40). These articles (and sermons) are also found at www.hilltopchristianfellowship.com. Listen to Pastor Dennis on WJEJ-1240 AM, Tues and Thurs, at 10:45am and 10:45pm, both days.