"On hearing it, many of his disciples said,
'This is a hard teaching. Who can accept
it?' . . . From this time many of his disciples
turned back and no longer followed him.
'You do not want to leave too, do you?'
Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter
answered him, 'Lord, to whom shall we
go? You have the words of eternal life."
Shortly after my move some months ago, I joined an early morning Bible study at the local book store. The first study was very interesting and practical, and I really looked forward to each session, even though I'm ashamed to say I overslept and missed a few. However, this week we started a new study by Kay Arthur, the title of which made me so uncomfortable, I seriously considered dropping out for the summer. The study is called BEING A DISCIPLE: COUNTING THE REAL COST, and unlike our previous study, this one is inductive, which means we have to dig into the Word and find our own answers.
The Scriptures for Week One did not include the feel good verses about love, and forgiveness, and grace, but rather, the kind of verses that make me squirm. The ones about what the lifestyle of a believer should be, and about being hated and persecuted, and about taking up our cross to follow Jesus.
In the discussion that followed, we pretty much agreed that what Jesus tells us in these passages does not sound very appealing or attractive at all and my thoughts turned to the quote at the top of this post, a quote that was often in my mind during the early part of my West Virginia odyssey twelve years ago. I remembered asking that same question over and over when things seemed so overwhelming I was tempted to drive over the side of the mountain, but there was never any other answer than the one Peter gave.
Now looking back, I see how faithful the Lord has been, how He was always with me, how the trials drew me closer to Him, and enabled me to see Him work in awesome ways that would never have been possible if the going had been smooth.
There are so many things I will never fully understand while I am in this world, but of one thing I can be sure. God loves and values each one of us. We are all Divine originals, created with a very special purpose that nobody else can fulfill. And even if we can't see why things are the way they are, we can trust that God is on the throne and in complete control. We can be sure that even though it may not seem like it, He is working things out for our ultimate good and for His glory.