Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani.
These were the words uttered by the Christ while He breathed His last breath on the cross. It’s amazing to hear those words coming from the Savior of the World. Surely He had to have known that this would be required of Him. To give His last breath in death on a lowly cross was the ultimate reality that He would have suredly known. Jesus spent His entire time on Earth in ministry seeking and saving the Lost. The Gospel message, the Good News, would be brought to all Jews and eventually Gentiles, because of His life. It was the ultimate sacrifice. And yet, He cried out to the Father, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me!” He had been abandoned by God the Father. Left to die a painful and inglorious death. This was supposed to be the shining moment in Christ’s ministry. This was supposed to be the time when all peoples knew Jesus was who He said He was. Instead, He was abandoned by God.
I had to let these words sink in to my heart this past week. My wife and I made the trek and stepped out on faith a year and a half ago to travel out to Arizona for ministry. Sometimes it’s easy to forget about the journey when the roadblock is in your way. Immediately you think about how to get past it. You think about backtracking and taking a different route. That’s natural. I was driving down the street the other day, putting out signs for our church, when Ray Rd. was blocked off near Recker Rd. This wasn’t unusual. There is a lot of roadwork in the city of Gilbert. But instead of remembering why I took the path I did (which was to put out signs) I immediately thought about how I was going to get around the construction. So, I planned out my new route. I was going to go south on Recker Rd. and then go west on Williams Field so that way I could get back home. But this caused me to completely neglect the reason I hit the construction in the first place. I became so wrapped up in creating a new route that I forgot to finish the task at hand. I saw the obstacle and lost sight of the goal. The journey became less important because of the roadblock ahead.
This past week has been the toughest week of my life. I literally didn’t sleep most of last week and at times, I questioned why my wife and I were brought out here. I have been told many times that leaders are not molded in the “clean” times. I believe there is a reason scripture refers to human kind as clay and God as the potter. We are messy. It’s in the dirty times when God raises up those to take the mantle of ministry. Ministry has never been about the perfect. Jesus came to save those who are lost. It isn’t the healthy that need a doctor. Instead, it’s the sick.
Throughout this past week, I referenced many times the fact that I thought I was “abandoned.” Jesus’ words on the cross ring in my heart. Through faith, my wife and I made a decision to travel out here. Amidst all this chaos, I had the feeling we were abandoned. I have come to understand these words even more because of our current situation. In the moment of abandonment, God reveals Himself ever more clearly. While we are on the journey, we must keep our eyes on the goal ahead. If we can ever be convinced to backtrack and take a different path, we might lose sight on the work God is doing in our lives. It is through the messy times in our lives when God molds those who stick around, into leaders of the Gospel this world has never seen before.
It’s interesting to take a look at this moment in scripture. Jesus, on the cross, breathing His last breaths. All the while, when Jesus was crying out to God in Matthew 27:46, I believe God was crying back, “I am still here! You were made for this moment.” The journey is what makes us into the ministers God needs in this world. The question is, will we backtrack or will we figure out how to get past the roadblock without losing sight of the goal?