I have always been one to believe in personal goals, as a means to give myself direction. But lately I have been rethinking this idea. God has given me a new idea. I’ve gotten it from Matthew 16:21-25.
21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.
In this account we see that Peter had different ideas than Jesus had. I can imagine that his goals, and his goals for Jesus were glorious; and they did not include suffering. In contrast, I don’t think Jesus even had goals. He just lived day by day and week by week according to His father’s will.
Jesus requires of us the same as He requires of His disciples: if we want to be His disciples we must deny our self and take up our cross and follow Him. I like the way the NLT says it: “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition…” That speaks to me of personal goals—because personal goals are usually selfish. Wow, this whole idea of putting aside my goals and living day by day, trusting Him day by day is kind of scary. But in a way it’s kind of adventurous and daring.
I’m think right now of when Jesus called Matthew to be His disciple (recorded for us in Luke 6:27-28). I’m sure Matthew, being a rich tax collector, had some pretty high and ambitious personal goals. But Matthew denied his goals and immediately followed Jesus. In the NLT it says, “So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.” From that moment on he lived not according to his personal goals but according to God’s plan, Jesus plan. And (as did all the disciples) he trusted God from day to day to provide for him. Now, as His followers, what can we expect on this day to day plan?
1. That the road we travel on is narrow. Few travel on this road, and the way may at times be lonely, and the surrounding will be frightening and perverse. Hence we must keep our eyes straight ahead with our sight fixed on our Captain who is blazing the trail for us.
2. Suffering is inevitable, and trusting is required. Just as Jesus suffered, if we follow in His step we will suffer as He does. Therefore, to keep ourselves on the narrow road we must daily trust Him.
3. The end will be glorious and wonderful. Though the way is rugged and suffering is certain, the narrow road we travel will eventually bring us to heaven: where we will enjoy forever the treasure He has prepared for us.
One last note. Though I will not have personal goals, I must have some direction, some wisdom that will give me some comfort and hope and direction along the way. I will count on the scriptures to provide that. So I must daily read and meditate on God’s word. I am counting on Him to show me the way. And I think He will even give me direction a few days or even weeks ahead of time. Here are some verses that we can start with.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.”
“Give us day by day our daily bread.”
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.