Footsteps in Faith: God promises to always be beside his believers

| January 27, 2011 | 0 Comments

Chaplain (Maj.) Dave Shoffner
130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command

Shoffner

Shoffner

When I was a teenager, many years ago, my parents used to send me to summer camp in the mountains near Sonora, Calif., for a week. We always had a blast, and we learned a lot.

It was a church camp, so we always had a camp pastor. One year, it was Pastor Lo. He was an older man. Of course, every adult seems old to a teenager, but we thought he was cool because he did tai chi every morning in the field near the stream.

One evening, Pastor Lo began his sermon by telling us that he, “Lo,” was the only living person who was actually mentioned in the Bible. He quoted Matthew 28:16-20, which is often called the “Great Commission.”

In the text, Jesus is preparing to return to heaven, and he is giving his final instructions to his disciples and, by extension, to us. He ends the commission by reminding the disciples that, “‘Lo,’ I am with you always”; thus, Pastor Lo’s claim that he, “Lo,” was the only living person mentioned in the Bible.

This pun was a funny story and a unique way to start a sermon, but it stuck with me during all these years. The point that Jesus was making to them, and us, is that he is always with us. Why would Jesus end his final message to his disciples with this statement?

The answer to that question is located in the events that took place during the time Jesus spent with the disciples. Think about what they had gone through together. In three years, they had gone from being ordinary people, doing ordinary jobs, to following Jesus.

The disciples had seen miracles. They had watched as crowds grew to the thousands to hear him speak, heal and do the miraculous. The crowds had praised Jesus for what he was doing for them and what they thought he would do for them in the future.

The disciples had seen those same cheering crowds become disgruntled, and in the end, they were the same ones who would yell, “Crucify him.” They had watched their leader be mocked, beaten, humiliated and publicly executed.

They had felt the fear, wondering if they were the next to be hunted down, arrested and killed. They had rejoiced three days later, when Jesus rose from the dead. After his resurrection, they had spent 40 days with the risen Christ, who made frequent appearances to guide, teach and comfort them.

After all this, Jesus is telling them that he is leaving them to return to heaven. They must have felt like they were on the world’s largest emotional roller coaster. At the end of all of the ups and downs, as he is giving them his last directive, Jesus interjects with this small but incredibly powerful promise.

He promises that no matter where we are or what we are going through, he will be right there with us. Good times or bad, rain or shine, up or down, “Lo (insert your own name here), I (Jesus) am with you always, even until the end of the age.”

I don’t know where you are right now in life. You may be up or down, in a good place or struggling. It may seem like the sun will never shine on you again, or it may be sunny all the time. Wherever you are, whatever you are going through, remember, Jesus is always with you.

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Category: Footsteps in Faith, News, Standing Columns

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