Be careful what you ask for
Ever long for something, plan for it and then when it happens, feel sheer horror at the place you landed? It takes a very wise heart and strong character to choose only the roads that are best for us. For most of us, we think, dream, pray and then hold on for the ride, because the destination is nearly always surprising. If we’re exceptionally blessed, that surprise is a good one, more often it’s a disappointment.
And the painful truth is we have no one to blame but ourselves. If we took our eyes off ourselves for a few moments, God and His goals might show through. But that’s a lot tougher than it sounds. Think of disciples spending every day in the presence of God’s only Son. They should have had all the spiritual direction anyone could need. Yet those twelve poor souls fell into the same trap we do, asking for personal gain, to be favored with powerful positions in the kingdom of God. And mercifully Jesus warned them about the road they were choosing – for thrones of glory in His kingdom are paid for with blood, suffering, sacrifice, martyrdom. It’s the age-old story. Dream big, but be ready to pay the price. In other words, be careful what ask you for, you just might get it.
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Passport to a new land
It is clear today that Christianity can appeal to our softness or to our strength. It can soothe us, lull us into a flabby contentment, offer us a smooth and easy way; Many today want just that sort of religion. It’s the kind of religion that says, “What’s in it for me?” It puts its focus not on God’s will, but on human wishes. James and John represent just that sort of religion in their request for the chief places in the kingdom. It is important for us, however, to face up to the radical demands of Jesus. This is not something that is comfortable to do; the call is not easy to follow: But as we stand before the entrance to the kingdom, we can present our passport only if we are willing to repudiate past ways and enter upon the radically new way of living that we have glimpsed in the teachings of Jesus.