I’ve got to confess that sometimes I have no idea where these articles are going to end up.
This ended up as a complete rewrite of the second half.
The Border Watch decided to give me a sub-title this week: Life Unexpected – Faith Offers A Pathway Through Pain.
A taxi driver in Britain thought he was securing a solid 2.00am fare when three passengers engaged him for a trip from Brighton to London. Having agreed on the fee for the 75 kilometer trip the driver dropped one passenger off, then another at a second location, before being told the third passenger was sleeping and would pay the total upon arrival at their destination. However, when they arrived, the driver found his third passenger was a dressed store mannequin.
The taxi company and other drivers think it’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to one of their drivers. The driver in question probably doesn’t appreciate the joke. I hope they let him keep the mannequin.
People find themselves at points in life where their situation doesn’t match up with their expectation. Sometimes we’ll even say it out loud: “I never expected it to be like this.”
Every new season of life tosses up situations that we simply underestimate until we encounter them. Sometimes unexpected events overwhelm us when we’re already stretched to breaking point.
Most of the time in individual life, or in wider society, we reach a point where we say “How did it come to this?” The answer is usually “Because this is the direction you’ve been following.”
Life is the constant adjustment to progress that brings us to situations that are never exactly how we anticipated they would be. If we can’t or won’t adjust, relationships suffer, we’ll find ourselves looking back more than forward, and the future will not be inviting.
One aspect of being a follower of Jesus is that he lets those who follow him know exactly how things will go.
He told his disciples that just as the civic and social leaders of his time rejected him, so those who followed him would experience the same treatment by the same groups.
Before he ever carried a physical cross he told his disciples that following him would involve experiences in life that would reflect, in all sorts of ways, alienation and rejection.
His followers experienced that rejection for centuries, often bereft of rights and recognition, treated like aliens and strangers among their own. In some parts of the world they still are. But this was just as Jesus had said it would be. It never occurred that they should say “I never expected it to be like this”. While it was painful, threatening, and they felt marginalised and vulnerable, it could never be said to be unexpected.
What made the difference? Christians never stand anywhere that Jesus has not already stood. And more than that, he promised that he continues to be present with them as they follow him.
We don’t follow Jesus in the expectation that life will be devoid of pain or problems, or that we will know peace and acceptance here and now. We follow Jesus confident that he leads us through pain or problems to a peace and acceptance that lasts forever.