Places We May Not Want To Go
Please! Don’t make me go back!
Please! Don’t make me go back!
Chances are if someone were to be walking outside my home at any time on Saturday or Sunday, they would hear this desperate plea:
Please! Don’t make me go back!
It is my plea. Pleading desperately with God not to make me go back… you know where. In essence, I am asking for a miracle. And our Father is a God of miracles.
Prior to leaving for church this morning, I cried out (again) “Please! Don’t make me go back!” <desperate sigh>
At church the congregation prayed this prayer of illumination (emphasis mine):
Surely, O God, your welcoming presence is with us,
and your Spirit longs to lead us
even to places we may not want to go.
We thank you, Jesus,
that you bring us from a mighty long way
to your way of life, and hope, and peace.
Even now, Triune God,
breathe, speak, and enflesh your word among us,
as we hear it read and preached,
and as we ponder it in our own hearts.
Then, stir us to get up,
and do something about it. Amen.
Your welcoming presence is with us and your Spirit longs to lead us even to places we may not want to go?
Please! Don’t make me go back!!
Sometimes when a coincidence like this happens, I feel a sense of calm before the storm. I know God is right, that He will be with me, even in the places I do not want to go. But then I think again—I really, really never want to go back to the dread and distress. God, please! But You are right, You will be with me. But God! Please… My thoughts play their familiar ping-pong match.
But today I remembered what Jesus said to Peter that day on the beach:
Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go. John 21:18
…where you do not want to go…
And the next verse says
(This Jesus said to show by what kind of death Peter was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” John 21:19
“Follow me.” Up until that time and even at that time—going where you do not want to go—that is the command, that is the promise in a way, “Follow me.”
We yearn to be like Christ. And didn’t Jesus, the Savior of the world, our Savior, go where He did not want to go?
And when they had mocked Jesus, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him. Matthew 27:31
Didn’t He cry out “Please! Don’t make me go!”
And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39
Charles Spurgeon often preaches about the great “Nevertheless…”. And here is one of the biggest in all of Scripture, “Nevertheless… NOT as I will, but as you will.”
And nevertheless, didn’t Jesus feel like God had totally forgotten Him too?
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46
Philip told the Ethiopian eunuch that Isaiah was speaking of Jesus when he prophesied of one who would be like a sheep led to the slaughter going where He did not want to go:
Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. Acts 8:32
And Peter says in all of this, Christ suffered for me so that I might follow in His steps:
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. 1 Peter 2:21-15
He “continued entrusting Himself to the Father Who judges justly” evidenced by the ‘nevertheless’ “Not as I will, but as you will.”
I have found a spot in church that I love to sit—and not out of habit or because that is “my place.” It is next to a stained glass window that depicts Jesus holding a lamb. Jesus is looking at the lamb with such love! And the lamb is gazing back into the eyes of the Shepherd. Such a tender moment. Such love and care. Certainly, that little lamb must be saying “Please! Don’t make me go back! Don’t make me go back to the pasture. Don’t put me down, but let me stay in your tender, loving arms forever.”
And I imagine Jesus says, “Oh little lamb. It will be okay. Follow me. I am your shepherd. I will never leave you or forsake you. For I will be with you always even until the end of the age.”
Friends, no matter what, it always comes back to trust. Trusting God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and body.
I really don’t want God to make me go back! I really don’t.
But I will trust Him. And with my loving Shepherd I say (and probably many times throughout the day) “Nevertheless! Not as I will, but as you will.”
Great Shepherd of my soul, Please! I don’t want to go back to that job! Never, ever. God, please send me my dream job. I know you hear my prayers, and I ask in faith. By faith I believe you answer my prayers, and by faith I receive the job you send to me. I believe! Father I trust you and know that You intend good for me always. I will follow Jesus Who will be with me and will go with me to places I do not want to go.
In Jesus wonderful name, Amen.
Note about feature image: The feature image is of the stained glass window that I mentioned in the post. ‘Jesus’ has a face, but it is difficult to photograph. From one angle it appears gray and gives a skeleton look (black lines on gray). But to get the white to show up erases the features. Still you can see The Great Shepherd and the little lamb look lovingly at one another.