Monday, August 19, 2013

Pastorgraphs: “When the Going Gets Tough”



E-Vangel Newsletter
August 18, 2013

Pastorgraphs: “When the Going Gets Tough”

(In this the tenth year of writing these Monday Morning Musings, I will occasionally dig back into the archive and resurrect a Pastorgraph. Today’s replay is from August 24, 2009.)
(Photo Credit: Fotolia, royalty paid)

As I looked upon our congregation Sunday, I saw so many needs. Health concerns, matters of livelihood and income, family issues, housing, and the list goes on. All of us are facing our own challenges. Some of us face multiple challenges all at once. Sometimes the problems seem overwhelming; and the resources seem so limited.

That is why yesterday's Gospel text was perfectly timed. We came to the end of John 6, The Bread of Life Chapter. The crowds began to dwindle away from Jesus. Some came for the free meals. Others came for the miracles and healing. Still more just came for the show. Either they misunderstood who Jesus was and what he was about, or they understood perfectly and wanted to have no part of an encounter with The Cross. Either way, the masses began to turn away.

When Jesus asked his disciples, "Will you, too, leave me?" Simon Peter said, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed and we have come to know that you are the Holy One of God."

When the going gets tough, as inevitably it will at some point in our lives, our faith is put to the test. Will we turn away, seek an easier road; or will we like Peter realize that in life's most difficult challenges there is no one else to whom we may turn "who has the words of eternal life".

I often find Dr. William Barclay words fitly spoken, and on this passage, his commentary hits the target:

"Peter's loyalty was based on a personal relationship to Jesus Christ. There were many things he did not understand; he was just as bewildered and puzzled as anyone else. But there was something about Jesus for which he would willingly die. In the last analysis Christianity is not a philosophy which we accept, nor a theory to which we give allegiance. It is a personal response to Jesus Christ. It is the allegiance and the love which a man gives because his heart will not allow him to do anything else."

Help us, O Lord, to turn to you early, so that when the challenges come, we will know you are our only Hope.

(In the four years since writing these words, I have been through several life-changing trials, including major thoracic surgery, semi-retirement, family problems with some of the people closest to me, the sudden loss of my older brother, and the day-to-day issues with Christ Ministry Center. At times, the stress level has been off the charts. The temptation is to say, “Hey, I don’t need all this grief. I’m out of here!” Peter’s loyalty at times failed the test, but ultimately prevailed. He indeed faced his own cross. Tradition has it that Peter requested to be crucified upside down, for he was not worthy to be crucified upright like his Savior. So when the going gets tough, I realize there is no other one to whom I may go who has the words of eternal life. My commitment is based upon my personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and not upon what circumstances, both good and bad, life presents to me.) 

Devotedly, Bill Jenkins

From the Quote Garden:
“You can't run away from trouble. There ain't no place that far.”
[Folklore]

Christ United Methodist Ministry Center
“Christ in the Heart of San Diego”
3295 Meade Avenue - San Diego, CA 92116 - (619) 284-9205

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