I thought about skipping a couple of days just to make overactive imaginations jump to conclusions. Then I thought better of it. It wouldn’t have been a meanness issue; I just find humor in the oddest places. I think it stems from traveling with my grandfather for over a decade, back when I didn’t have a license, there were no cell phones, Uber didn’t exist, and traveler’s checks were still a thing.
Once you’ve been forgotten in an out-of-the-way motel and survived on gas station burritos for three days, waited in an airport for eight hours because the person supposedly picking you up thought it was next week, been told that since we’re trying to conserve water you’ll have to take a whore’s bath, you understand the need for humor. No, I didn’t translate that last one for my grandfather. It was late, I was tired, and I didn’t want to keep the lice waiting.
If you don’t know what a whore’s bath is, well, that’s what Google’s for. Make sure you use the apostrophe, though!
For the most part, the individuals who asked us to come to speak were good, salt of the earth, honest, hard-working brethren who did their best to host us, and we were appreciative of it. There were a handful, however, whom I thought were trying to punish us for having the audacity to shatter the illusion of everlasting American greatness. Why they’d bothered to invite us in the first place is still a mystery, but my sneaking suspicion was that their biggest tither dropped my grandfather’s name at a potluck, and they didn’t want to upset their golden goose.
Sometimes you receive the hospitality of the brethren, and sometimes you endure it.
If you travel long enough and meet enough people, you sense when you are wanted and when they’d rather leave you on the side of the road and not care if you made it back home or not. Jesus prepared His followers for those instances, too, so all you can do is shake the dust off your feet and hope someone takes mercy on an old man and a fat kid dressed up to look like they were going to a country funeral in Sicily. Don’t ask. It’s a long story, but suffice it to say, I was the only student sporting homemade pinstripe polyester slacks in my entire elementary school for three years running. Then I went on to Junior High.
John 16:1, “These things I have spoken to you that you should not be made to stumble.”
Those were words spoken by Jesus! It wasn’t Hamish who overheard Asher, who thought he heard Levi say that’s what Jesus said.
When Jesus forewarns His disciples that they will be hated, hunted, and hounded, He does so out of love and a deep desire to see them persevere through their trials. It’s one thing to have unrealized expectations; it’s quite another for reality to be diametrically opposed to them.
Jesus knew that there would be false prophets, false Christs, false teachers, and preachers, telling His disciples while in the midst of suffering that it wasn’t the will of God for them to suffer. Could you imagine? Being forced to flee your home, abandon your friends, and be hunted like wildlife, then Uri, with the gold tooth and rings on his fingers, comes along and says, “brother, this is not the will of the Lord for you! You were meant to prosper. Look at me, I finally unlocked the mystery within the mystery, and now I want to share it with you for fifty shekels. My friend, my friend, you can even pay in installments.”
Because Jesus forewarned them that suffering was inevitable, whenever the Uri types would come along and insist they weren’t meant to suffer, they’d remember what He’d said and were kept from stumbling.
It’s one thing to endure persecution; it’s quite another to endure persecution while a chorus of people insist you are doing it needlessly. If Christ had not anchored their expectations, if He had not foretold of what they would endure, how long before some would, indeed, be made to stumble?
The same applies to today. If someone, no matter who says something contrary to what Jesus said, cling to Jesus and keep walking. Don’t dwell, don’t dawdle, don’t give them the benefit of the doubt, or wonder if their intentions are pure. They said something Jesus didn’t say, or worse still, something contrary to what He said. That’s all the information you need to make your decision. Keep on walking. Surefooted, determined, and purposeful, put one foot in front of the other, and keep walking toward your eternal reward.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea, Jr.