After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…
Sometimes, it is easy to identify as a follower of Christ. Sometimes your church home seems like a place where you belong; where it is a delight to serve and meet the needs of others. Sometimes you are so wrapped up in the life of the church and the fellowship of other believers that it seems to be a glimpse of heaven on earth.
Then there are those other times… times when you feel isolated, disconnected, or even hurt by some perceived slight, whether it be real or imagined. Times when worship seems hollow and the fellowship of other believers is just another thing to do. At such times, it may be that time spent privately with the Lord seems one-sided and prayers– even pleading prayers for greater faith or for help with some weakness–seem to go unheeded by the Almighty.
These are the times of assaying; of testing the quality of the believer’s faith. Unfortunately, it is these seemingly dry and desolate seasons during which many turn back from following the Lord because He is no longer performing to their standard. In honesty, it is sorely tempting to give in at such times, to join the crowd in retreat rather than press on, parched and faint, and trusting in God to provide what is needed even if you cannot see it.
Sometimes, Believer, you will walk this wearisome and strenuous path alone. God is there, of course, but you will not see Him through these times. He is proving the mettle of your faith; stripping away all the good feelings and the thrill, often even exposing the underlying self-centered nature at the center of the Believer’s service to others. He is removing all that is uplifting and encouraging, cutting down to the bare bones of faith.
It is here, on these lonely and forsaken paths, that He asks us, “Do you want to go away as well?”
It is here, clinging to God alone when there is absolutely nothing left to hang on to, where we must answer Him, “Lord, to whom else would we go? You have the words of life!”
Beloved brother or sister in Christ, if you are in a season such as this; if your journey with God takes you through an apparently endless desert wasteland, press on! Keep running the race, and when you can no longer run, walk, then crawl. Always press on, more deeply into the service of our God.
If the Scriptures seem closed to you, read them even more. Meditate on the more intentionally. Memorize them, even.
If our King seems not to hear your cries and pleas, replace your supplication with words of praise. Read the words of others if none will come to you. Entreat His favor endlessly, praying more for a humble and contrite heart than for physical mercies. Pray without ceasing, and believe that He will, in His time, grant those requests which are best for you and which prepare you for eternity at His side.
Whatever else you may do, do not turn away from Him, but resolve to follow Him anyway, even if it costs you everything. Follow Him, not for the material blessings now nor for spiritual blessings in the future, but because He is worthy of following. And know that once your faith has been tested and proven, it will be stronger yet. And never stop praying for greater faith.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24