If you want to be a genuine follower of Jesus Christ, you will be asked to make decisions about your life that you wouldn’t naturally make. Going God’s direction won’t necessarily feel right to you. Jesus made this clear to Peter in John 21:18. Jesus explained to Peter, “I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hand, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus could say these hard words to Peter because he knew that Peter understood that God’s ways are always good even if they appear bad. He had learned to trust in God’s goodness. He learned that life is mysterious and God doesn’t always send you where you think or where you want to go. Peter may not have liked what He was hearing from Jesus’ lips, but he had a deeper knowledge that God’s ways are always good. It was this knowledge that allowed him to follow God’s plan for His life and go everywhere God led Him, even to the cross. Legend tells us that Peter had one caveat when he was crucified. He asked them to crucify him upside-down because he was not worthy to die as his Lord had died.
Peter was a burly fisherman who was street wise and could certainly avoid going to his death as a common criminal. Peter understood that Jesus was talking about the way he would die as he immediately asked about John and whether he would die this way too. Jesus basically told him that it wasn’t Peter’s business and to focus only on what God was doing in his life. No comparisons were necessary. Peter accepted this reality because he trusted in God’s goodness.
Frances Bacon has a beautiful way of rewriting God’s word as if it were a conversation just with us. In one of her writings she uses God’s word to speak, “I have asked you to give, in order that I may bless you more. I have challenged you to pray, so that I may respond and help you. I have asked you to rejoice, in order to keep you from being swallowed up by anxieties. I have asked you to be humble, to protect you from the calamities that fall upon the proud. I have asked you to forgive, in order to make your heart fit to receive My forgiveness. I have asked you not to love the world, for I would have you released from unnecessary entanglements, free to follow Me.” (Frances Bacon, Come Away My Beloved)
Are you doing only the things you want to do? If you are, I can guarantee you are not growing as a Christian. Doing what you don’t naturally want to do is what following Christ is all about. Our natural minds will lead us to self-protection and comforts for ourselves, but also empty of real meaning and purpose in our lives. Going with God means going to places and people you don’t naturally want to go to. It means choosing His ways above your own.
Where have you been with God lately? What was the result of the experience? How did God show you His goodness even when it felt like you were giving up something?