The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 2 Timothy 4:18
A dear friend of mine recently turned my eyes to this passage in Scripture concerning Paul’s charge to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3 and 4. 3:10-12 states, You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings – what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted… Did you catch Paul’s statement, Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. My sweet friend got me thinking of ways the Lord has rescued me too. Now I ask you…. think over your own life and can you identify ways the Lord has rescued you? The fact that you are reading this devotional is proof He has not let you go. That no matter where you have come from or what you have gone through, He is still wooing your heart dear one.
My heart is turned to perhaps another’s rescue recorded in Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21 and Luke 23:26. Let’s read it from Mark, A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. At first glance at least for me it didn’t appear to be a rescue but more like a nightmare of the worst sort. Like the kind you try to wake up from and you realize its not a dream but instead reality. Let’s picture this scene together just a moment.
Simon, the father of two boys, who we can draw from Mark’s mention of their names that they became known in the Christian circle but it doesn’t say they were with him at the time it just mentions the relation. Simon, it says was just… passing by- on his own way- just happened to be coming in from the country- I compared many different versions and all indicate the same thing, he just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, or so it would seem the victim of random assault. But maybe it was rather a divine appointment…
I imagine Simon, like many Jews at the time, longing to at least celebrate one of the festivals in the Holy City. We can relate right… a visit to the Eiffel tower in Vegas holds not a candle to a visit of it in Paris, France right!! So maybe he had just spent his life savings on this one trip and come to find all his vacation dreams were anything but what he was expecting. So here he is minding his own business when all of a sudden one of the soldiers that Mark 15:16 indicates was leading Jesus away to be crucified suddenly, I imagine, presses his spear tip into Simon’s shoulder blade…
“What?! Why me, there must be 100,000 other guys here in this crowd and your spear tip finds MY shoulder!?! I can assure you I’m not your guy! I did nothing!! I’m not even from here!! Seriously are you kidding me, I’m supposed to be on the vacation of a life time, I’m the good guy celebrating the festival in the Holy City!!!” This is just my own commentary and maybe these would just be his thoughts as his tongue would be too frozen in fear to actually formulate coherent words, but can you relate to that possibility? Have you been where Simon is, when everything is going NOT according to plan and you might even be thinking, yep, this is the end of me for sure! But, Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Romans 11:33 Could this actually be the perfect set up for a…. rescue!? (and the plot thickens… gosh there is no book more intriguing than His Word is there!!!)
Again I compared many versions of all three verses that mention this event with Simon and all the words listed for how they picked him are, to say the least, unpleasant! Words like, forced, seized, made him, taken hold of, compelled him, pressed into service, laid hold upon, grabbed hold of, detained, constrained… Yep can we all say we sought after an opportunity to feel those things like, NEVER, right! But here Simon is made to carry a cross that’s not even his but in a way it really is. Sometimes due to no fault of our own we find ourselves forced to carry the cross of another and sometimes we feel our own cross is too heavy. We can fall into self pity, “why am I so misunderstood, why is no one helping me, why this trial, why this load?!” I call it the “web of whys”. Clever right?! “Web of whys.” “Web of lies.” sometimes I amuse myself. 🙂 Either way, web’s are for spiders not people!
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.” Matthew 11:28-30 Maybe you think this verse has to be a joke but honestly I’ve found it to work. Coming to Him in prayer and in His Word there is rest for a soul and we can learn from Him. What does He show us… die to self – you might be thinking, that sounds fun… but have you tried it? The moment I stop fixing my eyes on my web of whys and worries and start getting busy serving another my burden lifts just a bit. It doesn’t make my burden disappear but it does show me His grace is sufficient, His power is made perfect in my weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9)
Let’s look at how this ends for Simon. Turn to Romans 16:13 and lets see what Paul says about Simon’s family, Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too. Incredible right!!! I told you this Bible book is thrilling!!! Somehow the spear that Simon resented pressing him in to carrying the burden of the cross would seem to have brought not only him to a saving relationship in Jesus but his whole family too!!! God is SO good!
Simon was not a random dude in a crowd, Jesus saw a man he had dreamed up before the beginning of time and in order to fulfill his GREAT purpose and plan through this man He had to allow the press of the spear. Jesus is all about the rescue of your soul too. So if you are feeling the press of the spear and all the fear, confusion, discouragement and pain that comes with it might we just come to Him like the guy in “It’s A Wonderful Life” movie (I won’t say it’s a crime if you haven’t seen it – but it is, and I will include the clip I’m speaking of at the bottom.) and just come to Him on bended knee and cry out and just see how He answers the call to woo your heart! He is able dear one, He is able to bring you all the way, ALL the way, safely to His heavenly Kingdom. Praise and all glory to His name!
Independent Read: Philippians 1:20-21
*See that picture above… that’s a spontaneous picture I was able to take of a little one praying all on his own and isn’t that what it’s all about! Like Simon enduring “the press of the spear” carrying your cross well so that one day the torch of faith is carried on!