Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Keeping the Disciples from Missing the Dance

Suggested Reading: Mark 8:27-33

I have never been the biggest fan of country music, but I sometimes enjoy late 80's and 90's country music. If I had to pick a country song to name as my favorite, it would have to be Garth Brook's The Dance. If you've never heard it, the song is essentially about a relationship that ends in heartbreak. The chorus goes like this,

And I, I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end, 
The way it all would go.
Oh, life is better left to chance,
I could have missed the pain, 
But I'd have had to miss the dance.

It's a beautifully heartbreaking song in which he contemplates the idea that, if he'd known beforehand how things would work out, he might not have ever chosen to go through with it. But after experiencing the pain, he's glad to have endured it because it was the only way to experience the love that came before it.

In Mark 8, Jesus' ministry reaches a turning point. Jesus asks his disciple's who people think He is and they tell him all of the theories that people have. But when He asks, "But you, who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Christ the Messiah!" (Mark 8:29, HCSB). But it's what happens afterwards that is interesting. After warning them not to tell anyone who He is, we read, "Then He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, be killed and rise after three days" (Mark 8:31, HCSB).

Jesus waited until they figured out that he was the Messiah before he began to teach them about how much he would suffer. If Jesus had taught them about his suffering beforehand, they never would have believed He was the Messiah because that wasn't the kind of Messiah the Jewish people were looking for. They were wanting a conquering hero to liberate them from Rome, not someone who was going to suffer and die. So Jesus waited to teach them about his suffering until they understood that he really was the Messiah.

Sometimes, in our impatience, we want to know all of the steps that lay before us right now. We want to know how things are going to work out before we move forward. But many times, God waits to reveal the road ahead until we are already on it. If we knew what lay ahead, we might worry ourselves to death and not be able to move forward. We might make decisions that would never get us where we need to go. And so, sometimes, God waits until we're ready for it. Not because He's trying to manipulate us, but because He knows what we will think about it from both sides, knowing we might not be willing to go through it from this side but, just like Garth Brooks' dance, we'll know it was worth it on the other side. And He knows that we might not understand it or accept it until we're a little farther down the road.

If you've been anxious because you want to know the road ahead and God hasn't shared it with you, if you are worried about how much you'll have to suffer and endure, remember that God knows how much you'll value it on the other side -- that there may be a stepping stone we have to reach before we're ready to understand the path ahead. Trust that God, as the Great Teacher, will know when we're ready to know.

What Did You Think Was Going to Happen?

Suggested Reading: Judges 16:4-21 or Judges 16 (the whole Samson and Delilah story) I may lose some readers over this statement, but.....