As you travel the long, difficult road that God’s calling you to walk, you must bear a cross. That cross represents the burdens you bear as a follower of Christ. But the way of the cross always leads to resurrection and a new life.
As God leads you to do his will you may wish there were some other way. You may feel fear, a lack of confidence, deep anguish, and a host of other emotions that threaten to stop you in your tracks. Regardless of your feelings, you mustn’t let them cause you to turn away from the path God sets before you.
Jesus understands your fears and your struggle to persevere. He had similar emotions. The night he was arrested, he cried out, ‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death’ (Matthew 26:38). He wondered if there was some other way and prayed three times for the suffering to be taken away, if possible. But he always ended his prayer, ‘Yet I want your will, not mine’ (Matthew 26:39). Jesus found the grace to accept God’s plan.
You may be overwhelmed as you consider the cross you’ll have to bear on the way to a new life. But during such times of struggle, you can go to Jesus for encouragement and express your deepest emotions. As you cry out for help, you can be confident that you will be given the strength you need to do God’s will rather than your own.
God wants to move you out of your broken past and into a better future. As you cooperate with God’s process of redeeming your past, you need to honestly evaluate your life so you can redirect your course according to God’s design.
Jesus said, ‘You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ (John 8:32). The path to freedom always leads through the truth, even the truth about your past. The apostle Paul examined his past, making an honest review of his earthly accomplishments, his wrongs, mistakes, gains, and his losses. It was from this broad perspective that he wrote, ‘I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be’ (Philippians 3:12).
Freedom from the past also involves facing up to times when others have harmed you and turning them over to God. In a letter to Timothy Paul even states the truth that someone has hurt him but leaves the matter in God’s hands.
When you hand over your past to God with the prayer that he work it out for the best according to his will, you can finally let go of it. Then you can redirect your course toward a brighter future and help others to do the same through the lessons you’ve learned.
Simon the fisherman was reckless, vacillating, and often thoughtless. He friends could probably think of some apt nicknames for him, but I doubt any of them came close to what Jesus called him: Peter, which means ‘Rock.’ What greater evidence could there be that Jesus accepted Simon as he was but also had a vision for the man he’d become? And what an amazing transformation took place in that burly fisherman!
Most men can readily identify with Simon Peter. His intentions were usually good, but he was impetuous in speech and impulsive in action. When Jesus revealed that his divine mission would involve a painful death, Peter rashly told Jesus to stop talking that way. At the last supper he brazenly objected to Jesus washing his feet. When Jesus was arrested he cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant. And we all know how he denied knowing Jesus three times.
Later in Simon Peter’s life, however, we see what Jesus saw when he called him ‘Rock.’ He was used by God to perform miracles, he preached publicly about Jesus despite opposition, and exhibited strong leadership in the early church.
In Simon Peter’s life we see hope for our spiritual renewal and transformation. He wasn’t perfect, but he grew in his life in Christ and God used him to have a profound effect on the world.
Jesus has the power to transform even the most unlikely people. Keep this in mind for yourself and for others.