“On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’” (John 6:60)
There have been many times when God has given me instruction or teaching that is difficult to accept. I have come to realize that these are the defining moments of my life, when my true character is tested and I discover what is most important to my heart. It is in these moments that we decide the direction our lives will go.
There are only two choices when we come to the crossroads—and they point in opposite directions. You can answer like Peter, saying, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69), essentially I will not forsake you. Or you can choose to “run back and no longer follow him” (John 6:66), choosing instead to enter the wide gate at the end of the broad road.
As the disciples struggled with Jesus’ words, they did not yet understand that when He said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life,” it was a reference to communion, which was to come. Often in these moments of decision, we cannot understand what is being asked of us. Of course, in retrospect, Jesus did not intend that His disciples eat His physical body. When we rely on our own understanding and wisdom, we can be sure that we will get things mixed up. It is only in listening and trusting God that we can be sure to make the right choices.
These moments of decision can often come because we have set ourselves up—allowing something to rival God’s proper place in our hearts. Yet we do not often understand the purpose or situation until we have chosen our path. The last time for me was just about a year ago when I was asked by missionaries to join them overseas. I knew the kids at the orphanage, as I had been there before, and loved them intensely. The idea of being known as a missionary enticed me as well, and soon the pride of the idea overtook much of my thinking and even my passions until God said, “It’s them or Me.”
Immediately, I responded, “This is a hard teaching.” I did not understand why I could not do something that was “good” and “selfless.” But this moment spearheaded for me what would be an amazing year of service for Him and growth in love and devotion. Like Peter, I chose to lay aside my own human understandings and desires to trust in Him, saying, “Where will I go, Lord?” By pushing the pride out of my heart, I made a decision and a statement: “Jesus, You are my all in all,” and I moved toward a holier and more intimate relationship with Him.
How will you respond when Jesus asks, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” At the crossroads, be sure to take the narrow path; it’s not popular, and it’s not easy, but it is the road that leads to true and eternal life.
Lord, You are my everything. Teach me how to trust in Your plans, even when they don’t make sense to me. Give me opportunities to grow in my trust with You.