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The “Good” Journey

Haystack Rock – Cannon Beach

I just returned from another teaching session at Cannon Beach Christian Conference Center in Oregon. It is one of my favorite places to partner with. The leadership is genuine, the program is solid and the crowds are consistently eager to learn. In one of the presentations I described the agony and injustice of the crucifixion of our Savior. I pointed out the blood that poured from Jesus’ body because of the flogging and the insertion of a thorny crown into his scalp. I explained that the position on a cross caused the weight of the body to crush down on the lungs of the accused making it hard to breathe. In response, the one hanging on the cross would push up with his feet to get air in his lungs before slumping back down. Eventually, he would no longer have the strength to rise up and would suffocate in the open air. To speed up the process, it was common to break the legs of the dying so they could not lift themselves to gulp the precious oxygen.
My main point, however, was not the agony itself. It was that Jesus went through all of this unjustly and unfairly. He didn’t deserve it and there was never a charge that stuck that would have warranted this kind of mistreatment. He was abused, victimized and maltreated because of the evil in the hearts of others. Because of this, He knows firsthand what it is like for anyone living on earth who has been betrayed, abandoned or abused. Not just in an intellectual sense either. He knows the physical, emotional, intellectual and social trauma that goes along with the horrendous acts of men and so He offers a special kind of friendship to people who have had to endure agonizing circumstances.
I then requested that the crowd close their eyes so everyone could have privacy and I asked anyone who was in the midst of, or had been through, a situation that no one should ever have to endure to raise their hands. I pointed out that I wasn’t looking for the difficulties of life that we all face such as financial setbacks or confusing decisions. I was looking for those who had been through the unfair, unjust, unimaginable journey. Much to my surprise, 1/3 of the crowd raised their hands. I then prayed over them, “Jesus, thank you for each of these individuals. I am sorry they have had to endure experiences that no human should ever have to face. In the midst of their journey, I thank you that you understand because you have experienced the same thing. You know what it is like to be betrayed by the people who love you. You know what it is like to be abandoned at your greatest hour of need. You know what it is like to be mistreated and abused. Please reach out to these people today as a friend who understands and give them confidence that you will walk every step with them and you will, somehow, bring good out of each and every situation. Amen.”
It gave me a new perspective on Romans 8:28, “and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” The crucifixion wasn’t a good thing but God caused it to work for good. Being falsely accused and deserted by his friends was not a good thing but God caused it to work for good. The bad things that happen in our world are not good but in the midst of the struggle, Jesus causes it to work for good by offering a friendship with Himself that is deep, intimate and trustworthy to those who are willing to accept it.
Paul understood the depth of this friendship so he finished Romans 8 with these words, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? . . . For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Thank God that Jesus always finds a way to make the journey good.

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2 Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing this Bill. We are right there with you. Thanks for your caring leadership – through thoughtful words and example. Wish we could have been there with you this year but are certainly in the trenches this year. God is faithful and is doing amazing things that never would have happened otherwise. Maybe there really is a book in the offing….

  2. Stay the course brother. Sounds like a new set of stories is developing for that book!

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