“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!” -Hunter S. Thompson, The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967
I have often seen the comment from Mr. Thompson on memes, office desks, and even hanging on the walls of some homes. It’s made me think about a disciple’s life. What intentions should disciples have? How are disciples to arrive when all is said and done? What should disciples look like when their journey is complete? What should disciples loudly proclaim?
No doubt, the disciple’s life can be closer to skidding in broadside in a cloud of smoke. Hebrews 11: 32-40 lists this kind of thing pretty clearly. Here’s the laundry list: They: 1. Conquered kingdoms 2. Administered justice 3. Gained what was promised 4. Shut the mouths of lions 5. Quenched the fury of flames 6. Escaped the edge of the sword 7. Turned weaknesses to strengths 8. Routed foreign armies 9. Received their dead in resurrection 10. Were tortured 11. Faced jeers and flogging 12. Were Chained and imprisoned 13. Were Stoned 14. Were sawed in two 15. Were put to death by the sword 16. Went about in goatskins and sheepskins 17. Were destitute 18. Were persecuted and mistreated 19. Wandered in deserts and mountains, caves, and holes in the ground 20. Did not receive what was promised God had planned something better for them so that they would be made perfect.
Wow! What a ride! I guess I would rather be in the first nine, than the next eleven, but you don’t always get to choose. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of where you live. Take those disciples who today are living in China or India. In just the past couple of years, persecution of Christian’s has increased in those areas of the world. Many pastors, churches and laity have not arrived safely, finding themselves lower on the laundry list. They would answer the questions much differently than we would, and it is our duty to pray earnestly for them.
Those of us in the United States have a pretty well persevered body. Although we face persecution and mistreatment at times, and we need to be vigilant in protecting our religious freedom, our ride may be less smokey. But in the end, I don’t think it’s where you are on the list, it’s not even about the ride, or whether you are worn out or used up. It’s about God having a better plan for us.
A plan that we celebrate on Easter, no matter how we skid in. It’s the plan of fulfillment. The fulfillment for those in China, India, or any other part of the world. The work of all of Christ’s disciples finds its perfection not in the laundry list, or the ride, but in the one who is “the resurrection and the life.”
The focus isn’t on how we end up, but on God and His promises and their fulfillment in Christ. Our journey isn’t one to the grave, but rather to a redemption, that is now complete in Christ, that gives us an eternity. Now, that is something to loudly proclaim!
In Gratitude, Pastor John