Heavenly Father, I thank you for making me a part of your Kingdom through the power of the blood of your son Jesus Christ! When I am under oppression, you lead me to a place of brokenness so that you can remake me, mold me, and shape me more into your image, for your purposes. For that I am grateful.
Read: John 17:16, NIV
16 "They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.”
When I was young and first started driving, I was “an amazing driver!” At least that is how I felt behind the wheel. I grew up in a relatively rural area of the country, without much auto congestion. I didn’t really speed, but I felt pretty invincible. Driving on snow and ice in the winter time was something people got used to and proficient with in the northeast. So, when it snows here in Kansas, I take extra care, being careful and giving myself space as I navigate the roads. Even after I was married and had kids, I felt that if “I” was driving and taking my children places in slick weather, all was well. Then your children start driving themselves and all that changes. My wife and I both helped my girls learn to drive, but eventually, they had to drive for themselves without us being there. For those of us who have children of driving age or older, you can appreciate our anxiety at this stage of life. After my older daughter had been driving a few years, she started driving our late model mini-van. During a bad ice storm several years ago, she was coming up our neighborhood street and needed to navigate a left turn. The street actually came to a “T”. As she was turning left and navigating the icy street, she held her foot on the brake, thinking that this was the cautious approach. The van reacted to the braking by going straight forward rather than left. At that same moment, a man in the neighborhood was going to the mailbox on said street to get his mail…or so he thought. As the van moved along its destined path of impact, it took out the mailbox where the man was headed. Oh well, no mail for him on that day!
We, as parents, worry about and pray for our children daily. We pray for their protection and for God to help them do the right thing and make good choices. In the same way, from our verse in John today, we hear the heart of Jesus praying for his disciples. He asks the father to gird them, protect them and make them ready for the mission ahead after he is gone. Jesus poured everything he could into his disciples, teaching and admonishing them for three years, to equip them for the mission ahead. He was very mindful of what they would suffer, considering his absence. In the same way, we as parents today have concern for how our children will fare. Jesus agonized over the trials his disciples would face. He even knew that they would all one day die a martyr’s death, except for John. Jesus knew that the devil had dominion over the earth and thus, it was evil. Even more meaningful are the prayers of Christ to ask God to “protect them from evil.”
Today we should consider the life Christ lived while on this earth. He lived it with full reflection of the kingdom from where he was from, not from this world. Jesus prayed for and commissioned his disciples before he left this world, knowing that they would all (except Judas) join him one day in heaven! Jesus lived as though this world was not all there was and that it was not his home. The disciples lived in the same fashion. Do you live your life more like you are a resident of this world, or a resident of the kingdom of heaven? If you are encountering adversity in this world, perhaps it’s because you are more like an alien and stranger here. Is it because you are following Christ? That is my prayer and my hope for all of us today. To be a peculiar people, set apart for God’s purposes, to reach the lost and build God’s kingdom!
Father, even though I see with my earthly eyes where to go and what to avoid, let me see with spiritual eyes. Let me be sensitive to your Holy Spirit and may people see me more as a part of God’s heavenly kingdom than the kingdoms of this world. Let me walk in love and mercy and be a light in a dark, evil world, following in your footsteps Jesus! “So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.” (II Cor. 4:18 NIV)