Devotion: Monday, September 24, 2018

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, reflections from His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verse is from Mark 9:30-32, where the Bible says,   

From there they went out and began to go through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know about it. For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.” But they] did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him.

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going!

I was privileged to study at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, this past summer. Thanks to the invitation of National Guard Officer Ross Davis, I got a chance to be involved in lectures and discussions about National Security with the next generation of leaders of our armed forces. It was a humbling learning experience. Since this was the end of their formal training as well, we also got to celebrate with the whole group the day before their formal graduation.

At that event, the class unveiled a painting that they would place in one of the corridors of the college, commemorating their time at the college and giving the following generations a glimpse of the character of their class through art. Their painting was about the “lost battalion” of World War 1, who, though surrounded on all sides by German soldiers, persevered through the gravest of conditions. They even helped the Allies break through the German lines in the end. Perseverance, that’s what the Lost Battalion was known for, and that’s what the graduating class of 2018 wanted to be known for too. In other words, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” The “tough” ones finish the mission.

In today’s lesson, Jesus talks about some “tough going” too. It’s the “toughest going” for every man, woman, and child in this world. It’s the path that leads to judgment due to our common sin and rebellion against our Creator. It’s a path that even the toughest among us can’t finish, period. But then here comes Jesus the Christ. Though He was without sin, He chooses to take up our path. And, when the going gets eternally tough, the Savior of the world gets going! When Jesus tells the disciples that this path of suffering must be the way, they can’t believe it. They don’t realize how terrible a predicament all of us are in. But Jesus does. He tells them about the necessity of the “way of the cross” so that when it happens, they won’t be overcome with grief and despair. Even when all looks lost, they need to know that a persevering Savior is on the job, and He, like only He can, will get the job done.

Whatever you and I are facing today, and there’s plenty that’s overwhelming, faith in Jesus is something that gives us confidence and peace even then. Just like those soldiers of the Lost Battalion of WWI, there are times that seem completely overwhelming, with no way out. Can you imagine what it was like to be surrounded by enemies on every side? The title of the painting gives us a glimpse of their struggle. It’s caption states:  “We weren’t lost, the Germans knew where we were all the time.” They must have hoped against hope that the Allies would soon find them.

Well, I think a similar painting should hang in every Christian home today. But our painting should reflect the battle that Jesus engaged for us. It isn’t one where are enemies are close and our Savior far off. No, it paints a different picture. It’s one where Jesus surrounds us and is closer to us than whatever is against us. It’s a picture where He is on the case all the time. As the enemy struggles to break through His line of protection, His Word, His Spirit, His gifts of Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, even His body the Church, are there to protect us on every side. If you are saying in your daily battles today, “We weren’t lost,” I pray that the rest of that title is “because Jesus my Savior knew where I was the whole time.” With that in mind, keep fighting, keep serving, keep forgiving, and keeping loving one another in His Name until He calls you to Himself. Then you and I can also reflect a spirit that knows that “when the going gets really tough, IN HIM, we can get going and keep going too.”

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, now is a time for courageous and committed faith. May we see the commitment that you displayed so that we might be saved by grace through faith. May it encourage and empower our lives right now as we seek to follow you wherever you might lead. AMEN.