On Easter weekend the thirteen young adults receiving baptism stood before hundreds and testified, nervously unfolding their individual stories to the masses. One after another—some shyly, others boldly, each stepped up to the microphone. Their accounts brought tears. All were deeply touching. God was glorified—the electric energy of the encouraged saints was palpable.
Hoots, hollers, and applause rang out! God is in the business of changing hearts and lives!
One by one, they went into the water, their friends shouting praises and embracing them, jumping up and down in the baptismal tank with them, all of them drenched. The singing raised the roof! It was glorious!
As I watched and listened, I thanked God repeatedly for making me a member of his family and for giving me such open and unguarded brothers and sisters. By the end, my face hurt from smiling for the entire three hours. But the low often (usually) follows hard after the high. So, I also prayed that as they leapt and danced away from this pinnacle, they would rely on the Lord when they hit the coming valley.
The low after the high teaches us to cling ever more tightly to the Savior.
“Let us also go, that we may die with him,” Thomas proclaimed (John 11:16 ESV).
“I will lay my life down for you,” Peter said just hours before he betrayed Christ (John 13:37b ESV).
“We believe that you came from God,” Jesus’ disciples stated right before fleeing into the darkness at Gethsemane (John 16:30 ESV).
Lovers make proclamations of undying affection and devotion. We come charging out of our spiritual mountaintops full of vows of what we will do and how we will now live. I love you! I will follow! I will obey! I will never waver! Faces beaming and hearts full, we sing our praise songs.
Jesus smiles gently at our pronouncements. He cherishes our passion for him. But he knows us better than we know ourselves. We’re easy targets after our highs. We coast on emotion. We always want to feel just like this.
Then Satan aims his arrows at us; and, if we are unaware and don’t throw up that protective shield of faith, we fall flat on our faces. It’s predictable. Like Elijah, we run out into the desert, weary, overwhelmed, frightened, and believing we are alone. God comforts us and puts us back together.
And so, Jesus quietly carried out his plan to aim for Jerusalem and to get up on that cross, recognizing the test that also awaited his bold disciples. With Thomas, Jesus simply followed the plan. Cognizant of what was coming, he headed back toward Judea to raise Lazarus, setting the final conflict with the religious leaders into motion. Thomas would be shattered, his faith shaken. But then, later, he would see and touch the truth.
Jesus told Peter plainly that, unfortunately, he would not lay down his life for him on that night. Peter would instead deny Jesus three times. Imagine Peter’s consternation. After dropping that bomb, Jesus calmly and lovingly continued his Last Supper discourse, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1 ESV).
The Savior is ever mindful that we sinners are in need of saving. Don’t be troubled, he said. Believe in me. It’s always the answer after the fall.
To the bold disciples who made their belief statement on that night before his death, he quietly stated that they would be scattered, leaving him alone. Having thought he would be pleased with their pronouncement, I imagine they all sat back, stunned and appalled.
But Jesus said to them, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 ESV).
Unflappable in each instance, never missing a beat, Jesus’ words and actions demonstrated that their salvation depended on him, not on their own works or emotions or proclamations.
What a relief! Take heart. Have peace.
Not only does our Savior give us eternal life, but we gain intimate fellowship with One who knows us more completely than we know ourselves. He realizes beforehand that we’re going to blow it as we come skating out of our spiritual highs. Knowing this, he loves us thoroughly, providing the way of escape, guiding us to take it, and picking us up when we don’t. What a gentle and merciful Savior!
Have you had any recent lows that followed your highs?