On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus, the Son of God in flesh, begged for another way. He wanted God’s will more than His own, and obediently went on to the cross. I believe His decision shows not only how much He loves us, but also that there was no other way to save us. Remember that the next time you are tempted to say that “all paths lead to God” – evidently Jesus would disagree. If they did, His death was a pointless massacre, not a noble sacrifice.
But the point I’d like to make is that Jesus was trapped in a circumstance that did not have an easy way out. Of course He had free will to choice not to go forward with the crucifixion, but His love for us and obedience to His Father made that impossible. So God’s Son took the hard road, the road less traveled. And for those of us who follow Him, why should we expect anything different?
No Way Out
There is a prison that can trap the followers of God, though we don’t like to admit we’re really trapped. Its walls are reinforced by the responsibilities of family, income, & employment. They keep us trapped in circumstances that seem endless, torturous, and worst of all, purposeless. We pray repeatedly for deliverance from the circumstances, or at least for a hint at “why” God is choosing to trap us there. Because we know that in the end, it is God who has chosen to leave us in that cell – a place with no light, no escape, no evident hope.
And though for others there might be some easier way out, our commitment to God is part of what traps us there. Another wife with a loveless marriage would simply leave, another employee would just disobey his bullying boss and try to get away with it – as Jesus discovered, it’s only human to look for a short cut out of our prisons.
But then there’s the problem of God’s will, and the boundaries He’s clearly given us. These boundaries often seem petty and impersonal while we are in the midst of the prison. There are some “keys left in the cell door”, but they are ways out that would be displeasing to God and hurtful to ourselves and others. And the truth is there are lots of Christians who just go ahead and break out of those boundaries God set around us. Their reasoning seems to make sense: they say things like “surely God wants me to be happy”, and “I’ve got too much self-respect to put up with this kind of treatment”, etc.
So with those phrases on the tips of their tongues, they go ahead and take the easy way out of the cell – they break out using their own devices. And knowing that God offers grace and forgiveness, they don’t worry about the fact that they “got out of jail free” without waiting for God’s timing. They figure they can just ask forgiveness later for anything they need to, but now they only care about changing their immediate circumstances. I mean, if God’s not going to fix this, then I guess I need to handle it myself, right?
That’s a stark contrast to the picture of Joseph from the Old Testament. As you read his story – betrayed and sold into slavery by his own brothers, falsely accuse of rape, wrongly imprisoned – it sounds like a terminal case of Murphy’s Law. However, even though Joseph never did anything to deserve the bad treatment he received, he never lost faith that God would make it right and he never resorted to methods that lacked integrity. And that’s because ultimately Joseph knew that it was God Himself who led him into that cell.
It proves Joseph trusted in God, but it also shows that he understood something about the value of integrity. He knew that in this world, you will be treated unfairly. In this world, liars will often win and the wicked will prosper. And despite all our attempts to guarantee our security, every single thing we have can be taken away from us and you may not be able to do anything to stop it. And often, even God won’t step in… at least, not when we want Him to.
But out of everything people can do to you and take from you, of all the various ways they can mistreat and abuse you, the one thing they cannot steal is your integrity and relationship with God. And that is the key to why we don’t take the short cuts or the easy way out. We must believe that God is ultimately in charge, and our present circumstances are in fact a set-up for a greater reward.
Waiting on Sunday Morning
Jesus also waited on His Father’s timing, until He had defeated the grave and held the keys to death and hell in His hands. And if we truly want victory – God’s perfect victory – we must wait as well. One day He Himself will come to our cell door, turn the key and set us truly free.
And don’t worry – He promises we won’t have to wait forever. Like the old song says, “He may not come when you want Him, but He’s always right on time!” So it may be Friday right now in your life, but just wait. Sunday’s coming…