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Jerusalem Dateline

To Reach the Destination Requires Determination

determined triathlete racers

By David Gibson
Ordained Pastor and Pastoral Counselor


Luke 9:51 (NIV) As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.

M.S. Mills wrote, Jesus “had to resolve firmly to face the death which awaited Him in Jerusalem. He was not just running to a divine ‘game plan’ but had to go through all the emotions of any human being facing known danger with life itself at stake.”

The idea of crucifixion of self is a holy current that flows opposite the current of mainstream, popular society. A winner in our culture collects all the prizes of wealth and all seems to serve him or her. There is nothing wrong with wealth. It is only a problem when it becomes an idol of worship, a means of self-exaltation that distracts us from the journey. When everything in our culture surrounds us and tells us we are fools, even in this we can draw nearer Christ when we read the words of the prophet Isaiah about the Messiah: “For the Lord helps Me, therefore I am not disgraced; therefore I have set My face like flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed” (Isaiah 50:7). Jesus himself faced expectations that ran against the current of thought in Israel. They were demanding a Messiah who would be a warrior-king, and indeed Jesus was and still is, but they expected a warrior king who would shed the blood of others, who would release them from the occupation of Rome.

I and a few musicians were leading a Monday evening worship service in the basement of a building on a medium-security prison campus for young men. The basement ceiling just above our heads was a maze of hot and cold leaking pipes and drain pipes, overflowing buckets dotted the cement floor. The smell was sometimes foul. Rats ran along the pipes like cars on highways. Sometimes one would fall and the men would laugh. In the winter it was often very cold and we had to continually retune our guitars. Yet, always, everyone was glad to be in that basement. It was a holy place. Every week we sang “Do Not Pass Me By” and I would identify with them in our deep need for God’s grace. Following a time of worship in song we always had a time of praise reports. This evening a young man stood up and said, “I want to praise God. He loves me so much, he gave me a nine month hit!” What he said was that his sentence had been extended nine months longer. “I was supposed to be released in two weeks. But someone started a fight with me, and I had the choice to walk away or let my stupid pride get the best of me. My pride won. But really, it was Jesus loving me. If I can’t walk away from something like that, knowin’ it would cost me my freedom, what kind a trouble would I get into outside? Jesus loves me so much; he’s keepin’ me here to learn a little more before I go home. Man, this is Jesus’ college! I praise him and thank him. Thank you Jesus.” His fellow inmates erupted in applause. This young man was determined to reach his holy destination. He could see God’s love in what others would say was the devil’s curse. He had eyes to see and ears to hear the spirit of truth, the Truth of God’s love for him and the truth about himself.

In recovery we will always encounter people and situations that want to divert us from the path of wellness and wholeness. The Lord promises us a way out when we are challenged to fall back (1 Cor. 10:13). But the decision is always ours whether to take his way or our old way. Jesus was determined to suffer for the joy that was set before him. He set his face like flint! The young man in prison allowed himself to be drawn off his path. But he did not despair. He saw the temporary set-back as an opportunity to learn even more about himself and Jesus, rather than beat himself up and quit. What about you? What challenges to you face from friends, family, and workplace, to move you off your path in recovery? How do you respond to these challenges?

Copyright 2013 David Gibson, used by permission.


David GibsonDavid Gibson is a writer, essayist, and blogger of Bible teachings for life application (http://davidwgibson.org/). He is also a Christian conference and retreat speaker, an adjunct professor of World Religions, and the former host of radio’s “Walking with the Master”.  David is an ordained pastor and was a pastoral counselor in the NJ prison system and a NJ psychiatric hospital. He received his Clinical Pastoral Education at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He was freed from his addictions over 25 years ago.

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