Have you ever denied someone that you are a Christ-follower? Maybe out of fear, or rejection, or possibly even being physically harmed?
We know the story of Peter denying that he was a follower of our Lord. Not just once, nor twice, but three times in a single night. Most likely, you or I would have behaved in the same way. But later, when he is brought before the courts because of his witnessing for the Kingdom of God, he doesn’t deny Him. He speaks up about Him. And gladly accepts a physical beating to speak up about Him.
I remember a backpacking trip with two friends the month before we had to return to college. It was a dreary, raining day. We had been walking single file for over three hours with my turn to lead. We each had over 60 pounds of weight on our backs, covered with a hooded rain poncho, our heads looking down on the trail with each step, our feet in rhythm with each other and with the rain. The trail was narrow, muddy, and slippery. It was raining so hard that with your head bowed down and eyes narrowed to the ground you could only see two to three feet in front of you. As we walked, I came to a sudden and complete stop. My friends couldn’t stop in time and both crashed into each other and into me. Fortunately, I was able to keep standing in place while leaning backward to prevent myself from crashing into the largest moose that we have ever seen. He stood over eight feet tall, antlers wider than the trail, and his face with nose snorting and eyes questioning my sanity looked me face to face. There was less than one foot that separated his bodily presence from mine. If he took one step forward and turned one of those antlers in my direction, it would more than hurt. What seemed like an entire freshman year in college, I yelled “Moose”, then “Backup” while stepping backwards and pushing my friends to reverse their direction. (Its amazing where one finds strength in a time of emergency.) When everyone realized what was happening, we all stepped backwards in unison. Step by step, inch by inch, foot by foot, until we were a safer distance from our new found friend. After discussing the situation we realized that it would take us twice as long to turn back and take a different trail. Therefore, we decided to take our stand and wait. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait long. Our friend took a few steps towards us and then turned off the trail and proceeded on his lonely way. I felt like a prisoner released from jail. I knew somewhere, someplace this experience would teach me a lesson for life. And it has. When you believe in something strongly, don’t back away. Stand up to your true self. However, there comes a time when you may have to back up for a better perspective of the situation; a time when you need to view the forest above the trees; a time to evaluate the situation before moving forward.
As we grow older we realize that life is such that we may not only take three steps forward and two steps back in our journey, but sometimes its two steps forward and three steps back. But as long as we know our destination and our purpose for living, each struggle, each step, each obstacle is only a temporary delay of the inevitable. Our life is a learning process preparing us for eternity.
There is a time to step back. There is also a time not to step back. However, when it comes to living a life as a disciple of His, are you going to step back or are you going to fully accept His calling?
Almighty Dad, we thank you for always being here, for always being with us, for always guarding our steps. Help us always to walk with you. To allow you free access into our heart, mind, and soul. To allow you to lead us down paths where no matter what troubles or problems are ahead, we know you will help us through.
Help our unbelief to diminish. Help us to be strong. Provide us with directions each and every day in how we can best serve you and those you have given us to minister. Again, thank you. Amen.