Don't you wish for once life would just be stable, predictable, sane... and stay that way? It seems as though when I finally get through one thing and settle into a routine, my world goes crazy again. Or sometimes it seems obvious that God Himself changes my life and rips my comfort zone right out from under me.
Personally, my ideal day would be to get up early and have a great personal worship time with God. Then I would go to the office to write my articles and sermons in the morning, and then meet with people in the afternoon. To top it off, I would go home to have dinner with my wife and sit in my recliner to catch a little of March Madness before going to bed. I would much rather watch someone else's madness than have to deal with my own. Now that would be a great typical day. If only. …If only there were such a thing as “typical.”
You think your life is being tossed in different directions. What about those first followers of Jesus?
The disciples must have gotten up every morning with absolutely no expectations of "typical." When Jesus wasn't on a boat crossing the sea of Galilee to yet another location, he was casting a legion of demons from a wild man into a herd of pigs, who proceeded to go bezerk and rush to drown themselves in the lake. Once He waded through a crowd that was pressing in with demands that made him too late to save a little girl from death... so He raised her from the dead.
Some days He gave the multitudes parables they could not understand with no intention of explaining them except to his disciples. Then there was the day he told a rich man to sell everything he owned if he really wanted eternal life. Is that the way to salvation? Or why did He heal the sick and then tell them not to tell anybody? Think about it. How do you do that?
But at this particular time, they thought He really had gone mad! They had retreated to the back side of the desert since the Jewish leaders were now intent on His destruction. Raising Lazarus from the dead was the final straw. And then one day, out of the blue, He turned toward Jerusalem and started walking. (Mark 10:32-34) They were in shock. He set out in front of the entourage that traveled with Him and led the way. That was not the usual plan. They knew He was making a point. He was set like a flint, as if walking to His certain death. It was almost suicidal.
Had Jesus gone mad?
Up to this point, He had told his disciples not to tell anyone who He was. He told many who were healed not to associate Him with the healing. He had even shut up demons from calling Him the Son of God.
Now it was as if a switch had been turned on in His head. When He got to Jerusalem He openly rode in like a king - albeit on a donkey. He would not quiet the thousands of people from shouting out praise to Him as the new leader of their religion. The Pharisees were wetting their pants, demanding that He tell the people to desist with their blasphemy. He said it would require the rocks to cry out.
He was no longer in hiding. He would no longer be stealth, covert, no longer elude His identity. He not only marched into Jerusalem announcing His kingship of the Kingdom, but He boldly marched right in to the temple with a whip and chased out the deceiving money changers. He demanded they return the mall back into a house of prayer. The leadership was in a rage, demanding He substantiate His authority to randomly walk in and take over everything.
This was the passion week. And man, did it start out passionately. Is this the same Jesus who so often turned the other cheek, would not answer obvious questions, seemingly avoiding trouble to keep things moving along? Is this the peacemaker, the forgiver, the one who never forced anything on anybody?
Had Jesus gone mad?
If you’ll take a few moments to think outside the box, instead of inside your idea of a perfect world, you will realize that this is exactly how life is always going to be if you are following a king into battle. And this particular king is intently driven on re-capturing the hearts of mankind and restoring the kingdom to its original purpose. There are times of training and development. There are seasons of personal growth and even retreats. But then there are days of reckoning, days of intense battle, days of determined victory.
God never promised us a tamed existence, dodging every bullet and avoiding every confrontation. In fact, with proper perspective, you might discover that He is actually calling you to lead the charge, force the issues, and in some cases, start the struggle.
I'm sure that my recent announcement has some heads turning. Over the next year, I will be transitioning to global missions, traveling all over America to help the church world work together to fulfill the Great Commission.
How could I leave the pastorate, pass the baton of leadership and end the security of a dependable salary? And what about the close relationships, and the church’s comfort with my way of leading? Change?! Nobody likes change - at least not at first.
I'm 60 years old. Nobody should be thinking about adding madness at this point. Most at my age are planning for less. But having been in a position of having to hear God's voice for every future plan, I'm actually not surprised at all. This is what I signed up for. This is what it's all about.
Paul, at the end of his life, told Timothy, "I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:6-7). In other words, Paul never had a retirement plan. He had given his life all the way to the end because Jesus had given His. That's why he said, "I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:14).
Jesus rose up, not just on Resurrection Day, but on any given day. He never settled into a lethargic routine. He was ready for action. He was ready to answer the call. Every day was a change of direction because every day He was focused on one direction... to do the will of God. He was focused to sacrifice His life for the cause of redemption - to save your life and mine so we could demonstrate the kingdom of God to the rest of the world.
The battle is on to live that life and spread that news all over the world and in our personal worlds. Throw your routine out the window. Forget about finding a soft, painless experience. I'm not saying, "Don't enjoy life." I'm saying, "Go make the most of life." That's what Jesus did. That's what the disciples did. That's what we are called to do.
Have you gone mad?
So be it! You will find yourself in good company.
Let's change the world together!