January 7th - Desertion
From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?" But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?" He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve. John 6:66-71 (NKJV)
In the military there may be no greater shame than to be labeled a deserter. To leave in the midst of a crisis; to leave your fellow soldiers to fend for themselves; to flee from the danger regardless of a sworn oath. The military is not the only place where desertion is a problem. It is a problem in our culture, where a parent deserts the children. Where work is abandoned; where vows are broken; where the path of least of resistance is the chosen road.
Even Jesus had to deal with this problem--where followers and friends could not be counted on. No wonder the prophet Isaiah called Jesus, "A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." The desertion of people you are walking with or having a friend turn away is like getting ready to sit down in a comfortable, familiar chair, only to have it jerked away at the last moment. The fall is unexpected and the landing is painful.
This is a part of the suffering that we share with Jesus. We love and invest in people, and some of those are going to walk away from us at some point. In such a moment of pain Jesus asked His twelve disciples, "Do you also want to go away?" Peter affirmed his commitment to stay with Christ...You already know what would happen with Peter. He would stumble and in a critical moment he would desert Jesus and thoroughly denounce Him.
The pain caused by the desertion of a friend can certainly knock the wind from your sails. It was the breaking of relationships--the betrayal of a friend--the desertion of disciples--the separation from the Father, that caused Jesus to say, "My soul is weary to the point of death." How can we possibly overcome such pain?
There is no easy answer... There are no, "Three Easy Steps and Presto (Snap of the finger sound) the pain is all gone." In Jesus case, He fell to the ground under the weight of it all... And He prayed. In our times of sorrow and grief, we have a Savior and friend who knows exactly how we feel. We can and should go to Him with the knowledge that He will receive us; He will hear us; He will understand us; He will be our strength; He will be our help; He will restore us; He will never fail... Desertion is not a part of God's character. "He will never leave us, or forsake us!"
Author's Note: I did not want to be a Pastor, because, I had observed the pain that Pastors suffer as people desert the church from time to time. Many years ago, I let the Lord know that I could not remain in the ministry unless He helped me cope with my insecurities and the pain associated with my feelings of abandonment every time someone walked away from the church I was serving. I still feel the pain, but God has certainly been my friend and my strength. RJD