Steve’s Devotional – I’m Still Here
APRIL 29, 2019
One time when Napoleon returned from battle, crowds greeted him with cheers, singing his praises. His close associate, Marshall Ney, said to Napoleon, “Listen to them! This must be quite satisfying.”
“Nonsense,” Napoleon said with great wisdom. “With a small change in circumstances these same people would be shouting for me to go to the gallows.”
We are all so fickle.
And Scripture points it out. Prior to John 6, we get the impression that Jesus was a “rock star” with great crowds following him, praising him and hanging on to his every word. Then Jesus begins to reveal some details and John writes: “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.”
Then Jesus says (and if you don’t see the pathos in this, you’ll miss it), “Do you want to go away as well?”
Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:66-69).
And so very quickly the ministry of Jesus went from majority to minority status.
As I read Jesus’ words, I had an awesome thought: I’m still here! Believe it or not, I’m still here!
One of the hardest things about being a pastor is watching someone slip into the darkness. Even now, as I write this, I’m thinking of a number of people who were walking with Christ and serving him. Then I turned around for a second and they were gone. It breaks my heart. Of course, if they were his, they’ll come back and I ask God to do that for them every morning.
But it is still sad.
I think of Robert McQuilken’s prayer/poem, “Let Me Get Home Before The Dark” and I often pray for God to keep me from slipping into the darkness…to get Home before I run so far that I can’t get back. God promised that he wouldn’t let go.
It is insane that I should be “here” in the first place. If there had been a long list of appropriate candidates to do what I do, I wouldn’t even be on that list. I simply don’t know enough, I’m not good enough and I’m not bright enough.
At first I thought God called me to do this because, while I was a sinner, I was a good bit better than most. I thought I was called to lead people into goodness, purity and faithfulness…the same goodness, purity and faithfulness that marked my own walk with Christ.
That was even more insane than the fact that I’m here in the first place.
(And for those of you who wonder why I’m still here and have often thought that God was going to take me down, it’s insane that you’re here too. I probably shouldn’t have said that…but it’s true and I feel better having said it.)
The question is: Why am I still here? And why are you still here?
I’m still here because of truth.
It’s the same reason Peter and the disciples couldn’t leave. It has to do with the truth. It’s the propositional, theological and doctrinal truth of Jesus. Peter said that they had believed and had “come to know.” Me too.
Once truth is seen, it can’t be unseen. I’m not altogether happy with the truth. Sometimes I wish it weren’t true. Sometimes I’m tempted to buy into the dumb idea that truth is true to me and that there are different truths. That sounds so good, but it’s just not…uh…true. “Two plus two equals four” no matter how uncomfortable that makes me when I’m trying to balance my checkbook. Truth isn’t up for a vote. What’s true for you is true for me or it isn’t true for anybody.
I’ve been teaching the Bible for so long that I can hardly think a thought without attaching a Biblical text to it. In fact, when I’m asked to speak for secular events, I have to start with a text and write the speech from that text. Then I remove any reference to the Scripture.
God came to our dark planet into our time and space. When you realize that as fact, it does stuff to your head…it changes you.
Jesus was ticked at the religious people like us and liked the prostitutes, sinners and winebibbers. That’s a fact and causes somebody like me to wince.
When a dead man gets out of his grave, you’re surprised, but the truth grabs you and never lets you go. Death met Jesus and death died.
God doesn’t make suggestions…just commands. That scares us. Once you know the facts and have trouble doing what he commands, you can’t then go back and change the commands.
No matter how sinful I am, how much I want to run, or how tired I get of all this, it doesn’t matter. I stay because this stuff is true. Whether or not I’m a good example of it, I still can’t leave any more than I can set aside the multiplication tables when I can’t remember them. I’m irrelevant to the truth. The truth is true because it’s true. Its truth has nothing to do with what I do, what I think or how sinful I am. Regardless, it’s always true.
I’m still here because of Jesus.
Jesus said, “I am the truth” (John 14:6). I’m here because of him, the One who is the truth.
Jesus is a lot different than what I expected and even from what I taught when I first knew him.
Jesus never does what he ought to do…squash me like a bug.
Jesus never turns me away and never says, “I’ve had enough of you.”
Jesus has never condemned, disvalued or demeaned me.
Jesus has loved me when I was bad and when I was good, when I was “cussing and spitting,” and when I was singing songs of praise. Jesus has loved me, forgiven me, accepted me and walked with me when nobody else would.
So am I going to leave?
Are you a fruitcake?
Where am I going to go?
Sometimes I’ll succeed and sometimes fail. I’ll follow him closely on occasion and at other times run off to do my own thing. Sometimes I’ll be bloodied, walk with a limp, or just be so tired that I don’t want to take another step. Sometimes I’ll be sinful and sometimes faithful. I’ll often want to leave and maybe even make plans to leave.
But I’m still here and will be until I die.
You will be too. So stop kicking against the goads. You’ll just get a sore foot and, when you’re done and spent, you’ll still be here.
Time to Draw Away
Read John 8:31-32, 36 & Romans 8:1, 31-39
Truth gives us solid footing. Once truth is seen, it cannot be unseen. And Jesus loves, forgives, accepts and holds you. He will never squash you like a bug. So where else are you going to go? It’s not a matter of “do more, try harder” religion in order to earn your keep. It is simply trusting in the One who loves you.