That Night

 
When life knocks me down and threatens to overwhelm me, I look to a fixed point in time that lifts me up.  I’ve learned that perspective is everything.  During those times I must look at things the way God does. 

He shows all of us His perspective in the Bible. We have to keep our focus in the right direction.  Billy Graham once said:

1.  If you want to be distressed, look within.

2.  If you want to be defeated, look back.

3.  If you want to be distracted, look around.

4.  If you want to be dismayed, look before.

5.  If you want to be delivered, look to Christ.

6.  If you want to be delighted, look up!

When I feel like giving up, when tragedy strikes, when sickness goes long term, when financial setbacks occur, or when facing problems in general, I have an anchor.  It keeps me from throwing in the towel. 

I often look back to the night when my life was forever changed.  I have never been the same since August 4, 1970, when I said “Yes” to Jesus Christ while at summer camp in Big Prairie, Ohio.  I repented of my sins and accepted Him as my personal Savior. That same night I was called to preach!  I felt like a thousand-pound weight had been lifted off my shoulder.  My conversion was a very emotional experience that ran deep.  I was a changed young man! 

One of my favorite chapters in the Gospels in John 6.  Large crowds to that point gladly followed Jesus.  He had changed the water into wine, healed their sick, walked on the water, and fed the multitudes.  He also provided a veritable outdoor smorgasbord.  Who wouldn’t want to follow the itinerant teacher/preacher from Galilee? 

Then Jesus began to teach on total commitment versus a casual relationship.  Perhaps you remember the infamous cartoon from years ago which featured a picture of a chicken and a pig.  The caption read (with the pig talking): “For you it requires only a contribution, for me it’s total commitment.” 

Likewise, Jesus exposed the true motivations of the peoples’ hearts in verses 25-26: “When they found Him on the other side of the lake, they asked Him, ‘Rabbi, when did you get here?’  Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.’”

Jesus began to require commitment based on WHO He was, not what He did.  He said, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise Him up at the last day” (verses 53-54).  Obviously, theological treatments of the passage differ; however, I believe Jesus was asking the multitudes and specifically His disciples, to enter into a reckless abandonment to God. 

Verse 60 says, “On hearing it, many of His disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching.  Who can accept it? From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.’”  Jesus then looked at the Twelve, perhaps staring intentionally at Peter. He said, “You don’t want to leave too, do you” (verse 66)?  I love Peter’s response, and I’ve embraced it as my own: “Lord, to whom should we go?  You have the words of eternal life” (verse 67).  Some translations say, “You alone…”

When difficult days come, I look back to that night almost fifty years ago when Jesus touched me and reversed the course of my life.  During these times He renews my thinking and therefore my perspective. 

Remember, perspective is the way you look at things.  It’s determined by the way you think.  My conversion has kept me anchored when life’s difficult days threatened to batter me.  Jesus remains my one Constant and Keeper in the day of tribulation. 

He has kept me in the day of adversity.  The preacher warned us that “If we faint in the day of adversity, our strength is small” (Proverbs 24:10).  The New International Version renders it this way: “If you are slack in the day of distress, your strength is limited.”  I wish to remain strong in my resolve to serve God. And I know you do too!  How I praise Him!

  

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