Have you ever received news so shocking that the life you knew would never again be the same? Or perhaps you were given information or your thinking was challenged to the point of senselessness? You thought what you knew was true only to find out it wasn’t and you struggled with the reality of how to manage that information? Whether it was at a point where you merely scratched your head with misunderstanding or the information was so shocking it made your brain spasm, I think it is safe to say we all can relate. In John Chapter 6, the disciples were at that point. Jesus just finished explaining how in order to follow Him they would have to eat his flesh and drink his blood. Huh? Exactly. Everything they thought they knew about Jesus now is not making sense and they are singing the song “should I stay or should I go?” I too was challenged in a similar situation. I remember upon finding out that James was having an affair, I would return to work and I was challenged with the question, “Tina, what are you going to do? Where will you go?” His question, the concerned friend of mine, was legitimate. I had just had my entire world rocked. The life I thought I knew would never be the same again. Ten years of marriage and a five-year-old daughter, I find out that James is having an affair and he leaves us. My answer to his question? “I am going to Jesus, where else would I go?” I think his question for me was more of a practical one. He was wondering if I would divorce him, move out, or leave to live with other family members. However, his question was over shadowed by the Holy Spirit asking me, “Will you follow me regardless of how this looks and what expectations you had of me?” Similar to the question I believe Jesus was asking his disciples after they were challenged with a truth they didn’t understand. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked them in John 6:67. To which Simon Peter answered him, “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).
When life doesn’t make sense, the pain is overwhelming and seems purposeless where do you run? I don’t want to minimize your struggle nor the disciples’. I can’t imagine for the disciples how after seeing the miracles, watching Him be God, leaving everything they owned and knew to follow Him, how difficult it was to be challenged. The Bible said that many left. It’s not easy to stand when you are confused, hurt or betrayed. Quite honestly I think it’s impossible to do it alone in our own strength. Aren’t you grateful you don’t have to stand alone as the Psalmist reminds us? When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory (Psalm 73:21-24).
But for me, I guess I needed another faith builder. Even after 8 years and a restored marriage I was challenged again with a truth regarding James that would forever change my future. James was gone. Not just left but never to return home, at least not this home on earth. James was dead. Gone to heaven. I stood in the hospital as the doctor told me that they “did everything they could” but the extent of his injuries from the motorcycle crash were just to extensive. Months passed and my heart continued to ache, I just wanted to go home, to heaven. While the Bible teaches to have an eternal perspective, I again heard the Holy Spirit’s voice gently challenge me with the question, “Do you want to come to heaven because James is here or because I am here?” Eventually my answer became the same as the Psalmist, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you, (Psalm 73:25). I want Jesus.
Where will I go? When I don’t understand, when I am challenged with life not how I expected it to be, when everyone else walks away…will I stand? Will I run to Jesus? Is He enough for me on earth and in heaven? Today, by His grace I sing with the Psalmist, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26). I pray it becomes your song as well if it hasn’t already.