I'm definitely not in Kansas anymore. Metaphorically speaking, anyway. I've never even been to Kansas, despite being a huge fan of their university's basketball team.
But I digress.
What I'm trying to say is quitting my job and moving 500 miles away from everything and everyone I know to pursue God's calling was supposed to be a dream right? But some days it feels more like I got swept up in a tornado and crashed a house on the sister. You know what I mean? This is a tough place to be - knowing that you did what God asked and yet feeling very uncertain of what is next and feeling very alone in your battle. There isn't a sign saying, "Take the road this way." No munchkins pointing me to the path. And definitely no singing scarecrow to keep me light-hearted.
I've always known how hard it is to go against the grain. And for a long time, I chose not to because that was a whole lot easier. But in the past 5 years or so, God has really shown me that, although going against the grain is incredibly difficult and at times very lonely, the benefit far outweighs the risk. Still, when the witch shows up, sometimes I really want to hide behind the tin man.
I have always felt somewhat akin to the prophet Jeremiah. Remember how God kept telling him to do the right thing and how everyone hated him because of it? They wanted him gone. But he kept doing what God said. Eventually he got to the point where he finally told God how he felt about it. We see him say in chapter 20:
"I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say 'I will not speak anymore in his name,' his word is in my heart like a fire, shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed I cannot! I hear many whispering, 'Terror on every side! Denounce him! Let's denounce him!' All my friends are waiting for me to slip, saying, 'Perhaps he will be deceived; then we will prevail over him and take our revenge on him."
Jeremiah was not too happy with his calling at this point. It was tough to be alone and to stand up for God's word in a world where not many wanted anything to do with what God had to say. And he knew that everyone was watching him to see if he would mess up so that they could pounce for the kill. I totally get it. Now, I'm no prophet, and, thankfully, I don't live in a world where everyone around me has turned their back on God. But there are times where we all feel like we are the only person in the world trying to make a difference. Are you with me?
These are the times we need Christ more than ever. Let's look at the rest of chapter 20. Jeremiah then says:
"But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonor will never be forgotten. Lord Almighty, you who examine the righteous and probe the heart and mind, unleash your vengeance on them, for to you I have committed my cause. Sing to the Lord! Give praise to the Lord! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked."
God is sovereign. He rules forever. In the end, the only thing that will prevail will be the goodness of His justice. We should be encouraged to know that our faith in Christ and our perseverance in good deeds will be the only thing that stands in the end. That should be enough to keep up going. God rescues His people from the wicked. It may not always seem that way here on this earth, but Revelation 20 talks about the saints who were beheaded for their faith reigning first with Christ in Heaven. How awesome is that?
Yeah, sometimes life stinks. We get dragged through the mud. People throw stones at us. Everyone hates us. But I know from personal experience that if I say I will not speak anymore in His name, His word is like fire in my bones and I cannot hold it in.
Someone who knows me pretty well said to me not too long ago while I was struggling with the road not being easy, "You would rather walk through the muddy, rocky, righteous path than to walk down the golden brick road of sin." And while that image is a bit comical, it is true. The yellow brick road may be the easiest path with a lot of people I know walking beside me. But in the end, it leads to a phony wizard who can't help me. And while the muddy path is dirty and hard to travel, in the end it leads to eternal reign with Christ.
And what is even harder is that the paths run side by side. It is so easy to step off one and on to the other. This is why we need each other, Christians! There have been times in my life where I was certainly content on the golden road. But when I look over and see the joy of someone on the muddy path, I start to realize where my heart really lies. And there have been other times where I have needed someone to literally yank me off the road and into the mud.
Proverbs 14 says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end leads to death." When you and I get to feeling like Jeremiah, we have to remember that when we get off the path, it burns.
Trudge the mud with me friends, and let's "Set an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity."