[forthright] Where You Do Not Wish

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From: "Forthright Magazine" <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Sat, 01 Sep 2007 06:45:42 -0300
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COLUMN: FIELD NOTES

"Where You Do Not Wish"
by Michael E. Brooks

  Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were
  younger, you girded yourself and walked
  where you wished; but when you are old, you
  will stretch out your hands and another
  will gird you and carry you where you do
  not wish.                        John 21:18

Bangladesh has been under curfew for the past week
or more. This is not unusual, but always
irritating and troublesome. We have been planning
a trip to visit churches in the southeastern part
of the country, and we have not known whether we
would be able to go or not. As the trip is to
address some real needs, and as there is
opportunity for some successful work, it is rather
important that we go. But it is not up to us,
others will determine the conditions which will
make it possible or not. Tomorrow is the day of
our departure, and the news this morning is that
the curfew is lifted. We may go.

We all desire “freedom”. To most of us this means
the ability to do what we choose, go where we wish,
say what we want, and think what seems right. These
are political and social goals, but they are almost
always also perceived in the most personal and
practical ways. I want to be able to make my own
decisions about things, to say, do and think
whatever pleases me. This is not usually first and
foremost a political ideology. Rather it is a
personal dream and desire.

As widespread as this dream is, it is not often
fully realized. The American constitution may
preserve democratic rights, but our economic
and social system usually presents a different
reality. I may have the "right" to sleep as late
and work as little as I choose. However, the
demands of my body and my family for food,
shelter, clothing and medicine usually require me
to get up and go to work. We are not really "free"
in the total and complete sense we idealize.

This is especially true of the Christian who
accepts his responsibility to serve the Lord.
There was a time in Peter's life when he was
"foot-loose and fancy free." In other words, he
went wherever he chose to go. But Jesus says that
day is ending. If he truly loves Jesus and accepts
the responsibility of feeding his sheep, others
will make Peter's decisions for him. These
decisions may be made by those whom he is serving
and by their needs. Or the decisions may be made
by enemies of the cross. Peter will go where they
take him, and suffer whatever fate they give him.

But doesn't God take care of the faithful?
Ultimately and eternally, yes. Romans 8:31 asks,
"If God be for us who can be against us?" This
does not mean however that no Christian will die a
martyr's death, nor suffer imprisonment or loss of
property. These things have happened and do
happen. They do not mean that God does not look
after us, nor that his enemies will prevail.

They do mean however that Christians are subject
to the natural forces of this world, and to the
evil intentions of unrighteous men. We may be
persecuted, hindered and frustrated in our
efforts. Storms may delay us. Illness may beset
us. Yet we must remain "steadfast, unmovable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord" (1
Corinthians 15:58a). God gives us patience and
strength and he always encourages us to trust in
him. Knowing that, we know "that [our] labor is
not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58b).

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