Sam, my old Irish Setter, is a gentle dog who loves people, but if she feels that she is being cornered or pressured a deep growl rumbles from her throat and her lips curl back to reveal some vicious looking teeth! When she thinks that there is a real threat of harm coming her way she reverts to her canine nature, which is natural. Have you been growling at others, feeling a deep sense of dis-ease? Does it feel like life is closing in, leaving you with no way out of whatever situation is causing your discomfort?
Threats of actual physical danger are not part of my life and I am so thankful for that. I have never lived in a war zone, been caught up in violence, or had my home broken into. Never the less, days come when it feels as if the world around me is pressing in, backing me into a corner, threatening my sense of well-being. When I focus on those things that make me afraid of the future, I become like my old dog; snarling, snapping, growling, defensive. Does that ever happen to you? Do fatigue, uncertainty, and the unknown ever seem to push you up against a wall?
In the Gospels, where we read the account of Jesus’ life, we come to the part where He is going to Jerusalem to face the Cross. The disciples knew something of the danger. We catch a glimpse of their fear in the words of Thomas who sighs, “Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:16, NIV) As the week went on their fears came to a crescendo at the Passover dinner where Jesus spoke at length about His impending death.
The disciples tried to sort out their confusion during the short walk through the darkness from the Upper Room to the olive grove where there was a garden called Gethsemane. Once there – Jesus prayed and the men, exhausted by stress and fear, fell asleep. With a start they awoke to the noise of approaching men. Tension rose, but Jesus would not run. Roman soldiers and armed temple police, accompanied by Judas, arrived. Jesus stepped forward and asked them who they sought. They answered that they were looking for Jesus. Judas moved forward and kissed the Master in betrayal, a signal that led the soldiers to seize Him.
Peter, cornered and desperate, pulled a sword from his waistband and took a wild swing at the nearest man, who ducked, but not quickly enough to save his ear which was sliced away. Before further chaos could break out, the Man in custody showed His faith, the grace of God, and His sense of being centered in God’s will. He told Peter to put his sword away, asked the soldiers to let His disciples go, and healed Malchus’ ear. In spite of all appearances, He was not cornered at all. He knew he was living in His Father’s will. “Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (John 18:11, NIV)
In that story we watch two men in the same set of circumstances with completely different responses.
One was full of faith, the other full of fear.
One was moving to the will of God, the other running from it.
One was secure in God’s hand, the other felt the chaos of his own confusion.
These days with COVID threats seeming to lurk in every corner, with economic chaos descending on many, in a time of political conflict, our spiritual walk with Jesus can be affected if we allow fear to overtake us. Why do I say if? Because we have a choice of our focus. We can conclude that we are helpless and cornered, or we can run to the Father and renew our hope in His care. Where will you live today?
Has life apparently cornered you, Christian? Do you see only overwhelming problems? Are you ready to conclude that there no way out, no way around? Here is a passage of Scripture – powerfully true – that you can memorize and hold onto. “Be silent, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” The Lord Almighty is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.” (Psalm 46:10-11, NLT) Be still!
Find your place in the Father’s will. Wrestle with the emotions. Jesus did! His stress was intense and we know that He wanted to avoid the Cross. He chose submission to the plan of God. “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39, NIV) The way out of the corner was not the one that offered comfort but it was God’s plan to bring about His will for the world and the way that Jesus was exalted to the Father’s side.
Today, choose to wait and watch and listen and pray. “Be still and know that I am God!” He tells us. Here’s a word from the Word. “If you think you are standing strong, be careful, for you, too, may fall into the same sin. But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it. So, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols.” (1 Corinthians 10:12-14, NLT)
I’ve carried a burden for too long on my own
I wasn’t created to bear it alone
I hear Your invitation to let it all go
I see it now I’m laying it down
And I know that I need You
I run to the Father
I fall into grace
I’m done with the hiding
No reason to wait
My heart needs (found) a surgeon
My soul needs (found) a friend
So I’ll run to the Father
Again and again
And again and again
You saw my condition
Had a plan from the start
Your Son for redemption
The price for my heart
I don’t have a context
For that kind of love
I don’t understand
I can’t comprehend
All I know is I need You
Again and again
And again and again
My heart has been in Your sights
Long before my first breath
Running into Your arms
Is running to life from death
I feel this rush deep in my chest
Your mercy is calling out
Just as I am You pull me in
nd I know I need You now
Cody Carnes | Matt Maher | Ran Jackson
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