Someone once said that there are three kinds of people in the world. There are those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened. The truth of this assessment is irrefutable. Some people are proactive in life, while most of us simply react to it. The rest seem to wake up in a new world each day, blissfully unaware of what is going on around them.
As true as this is, even the most proactive among us sometimes face a situation and wonder where they will go from that point. This happens because life rarely goes as we have planned it. Sometimes, in spite of our plans and preparations, and in spite of our best efforts, life throws us a curveball. When this occurs, we can let the unforeseen or unexpected derail us, or we can take whatever actions are necessary to resume control of our own destiny. We can wallow in self-pity and bemoan our sad circumstances, or we can take the lemons of life and turn them into lemonade. It’s our choice.
This is certainly true in the temporal affairs of life, but is even more true in spiritual matters. None of the heroes of faith became so by having a “woe-is-me” attitude. Instead, they rose from where life struck them down and got back to the business of serving the Lord. Two examples show us the alternatives before us.
In Mt. 26:14-16 Judas made his bargain with the chief priests to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. When the Lord had been condemned by the rulers of the Jews, Judas regretted his actions. At that moment he had to have wondered, “Where do I go from here?” In Mt. 27:1-4 we learn the answer. Judas returned the money and in the depths of remorse went out and hanged himself. He came to a place he did not expect to find himself in, and he reacted poorly.
Concurrent with Judas’ actions, the second example occurred. In Mt. 26:69-75 the scripture says that Peter denied the Lord three times as he stood among the crowd watching the Lord’s trial before the leaders of the Jews. In v. 74 Matthew says Peter even cursed and swore to make his denials all the more emphatic. When Peter heard the rooster crowing, he remembered what the Lord had said. V. 75 tells us that he then went out and wept bitterly. He, like Judas, must have wondered where he would go from there. The answer is, he went back to the other apostles and resumed his place among them.
Peter chose wisely and was restored to his place among the Lord’s chosen men and was among the first to learn that the Lord had been raised three days later. On the first Pentecost after the Lord’s resurrection, he was there as the gospel was proclaimed for the first time (Acts 2:14-36). Peter’s remorse over his situation led him to renewed vigor in serving the Lord. For this reason he is called a pillar of the church (Gal. 2:9).
The lesson for each of us is that life will not always go the way we expect it to. Judas likely did not expect to see Jesus condemned. Peter certainly did not expect to deny the Lord. Yet both found themselves in an unwanted position. Their choices made the difference in their respective destinies. So it is for us, as individuals or as a congregation of God’s people. When the unforeseen or unexpected happens, we can overcome it by not giving up. If we continue to trust in the Lord, and if we are willing to do whatever is necessary to glorify Him, then no obstacle is unsurmountable. If we fix our eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:2), and if we each do our part for the good of the church (Eph. 4:16), then we will make the right choices, and we will always know where we are going.