“The Difficult Journey” – Mark 14:-26-30

26 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

27 “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written:

“‘I will strike the shepherd,
    and the sheep will be scattered.’[a]

28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”

30 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice[b] you yourself will disown me three times.”

The words must have stung.

His closest followers, the very ones who said they would follow him anywhere, even to death, these were the ones that Jesus said would betray him.

We know, looking back at the story from our perspective, that is exactly what happened. We also know that, after Christ’s resurrection, these key individuals would come to realize the full depth, and power, of Christ’s love. They would accept that love in a new a powerful way, accept his forgiveness of their betrayal, and go one to follow him anywhere, even to death, and beyond.

At the time, however, they did not know what would happen. They had to go through the experience for it to impact them as it did – and change their lives – and the world – forever.

The same is true for us. We cannot always know exactly where God is leading. We cannot know all of the joyful and painful experiences we will have as God forms us into his people. We can only experience it and learn. We have to live it out.

During this year’s Lenten journey I invite you to be open to that powerful opportunity. Pray that you can be open to where God is leading, right now.

You may go through some painful times. You may go through some joyful times. You may have some of your worst traits, your deepest fears, exposed. You may have questions that seem unanswerable. I believe, however, that if you are willing to follow God will take you into a new, deepening relationship with him.

That…can change everything.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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