2020 has been an interesting year for all of us. From a global pandemic, to the realities of injustice in our country, we have all faced quite a few bumps in the road. However, one day in May, I came across a literal bump in my path: when my family and I were visiting properties on a local island community close to where we lived, I face-planted. The first part of our day went along smoothly and as planned. Then, we arrived at the final property of the tour. We had a great time on the tour — until it was time to leave. I used the elevator to get down to the exit. I opened the elevator door, but instead of watching where I was going, I thought about the delicious lunch that I was about to enjoy. I continued on in this state of euphoria until my walker hit a lip in the path and BOOM! I ended up face-down in the gravel.
I told that story not so that hundreds of readers could laugh at one of my most embarrassing moments, but so that they could know what it feels like to have a mission, experience a bump in the road, and fall down. That day, I had a mission–to get off the island and to eat lunch. Unfortunately, because I tripped on a tiny bump in the road, that mission was delayed.
Many modern-day Christians have experienced the same thing, especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic. We see this as a bump in the road, and because of it, we trip and fall, thus delaying our mission. However, the reality is that some seasons may be filled with more bumps than others, but the Christian mission remains the same: to make disciples of all nations. We can either choose to be faithful to our mission and stand tall despite the bumps, or we can become consumed with the bumps in our paths, tripping over them, and bruising our faces because of them.
It may seem incredibly daunting to stand tall in the midst of this global pandemic. After all, our world has never faced anything like this before. This bump in the road seems hopeless. Yet, more often than not, the Lord chooses to work in the midst of hopeless situations. He appoints the most unlikely of people in the most unlikely of places to carry out His work: the work of making disciples. Remember Simon Peter.
One moment, he was just an ordinary fisherman, and the next, Jesus called him to be a fisher of men. One moment, he was a sinful man, but he had the courage to stand tall despite the roadblock of his sinfulness, leave his nets, and advance the mission of the Kingdom. At that moment, Simon Peter knew his purpose, and it was much bigger than catching some fish. It was to make disciples of the one and only Messiah.
While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. – Matthew 4:18-20
However, this was not the only bump in the road that Simon Peter faced on his journey to fulfilling the Lord’s mission. Over the course of Jesus’ three-year earthly ministry, Simon Peter stumbled over the fact that he was not perfect multiple times. Yet, his biggest bump in the road came when he least expected it.
Grace to Get Back Up
On the night of Jesus’ death, he did something that he once swore he would never do: he denied his Savior not once, but three times. Overcome with guilt and shame, Simon Peter could’ve chosen to become consumed with this bump in his path. He could’ve chosen to faceplant and not get back up, but instead, he stood tall and remained faithful in his mission to make disciples.
He stood so tall that he preached to a crowd of devout, scholarly men who seemed to know a whole lot more about religion than he did. In this sermon, Simon Peter boldly proclaimed:
Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified. – Acts 2:36
At the end of this sermon, about 3,000 people were baptized. About 3,000 nonbelievers became disciples of the risen Savior–all because one man had the courage to stand tall despite his bumps in the road. What does Simon Peter’s story teach us?
Much like Simon Peter, we are currently facing a huge bump in the road: a global pandemic. We are facing a roadblock so astronomical that we don’t know how we’re ever going to make it without getting at least one bruise on our cheeks. We just know that this bump in our path is going to make us faceplant. Much like Simon Peter, we have two choices. We can become consumed with lies from the devil (that this obstacle is too big to overcome, that this roadblock will inevitably hurt us), or we can stand with two feet rooted on solid ground and march over that bump in the road.
Eyes on the Mission
I can’t tell you that this will be our last bump in the road and that we will never experience hardship again, but I can tell you this: Jesus’ mission of discipleship remains constant whether everything is going well or everything is falling apart. A mentor once told me that our walk with the Lord isn’t supposed to be a culmination of mountaintop and valley moments, as the world tries to tell us. Rather, our obedience to God should be a flat line and a consistent journey. We should keep choosing God, no matter what season of life we are in. We should stand tall, no matter how big a bump in the road may seem.
Bumps in the road have a tendency to make us faceplant and lose sight of our mission, but I would like to challenge us all to combat distractions and stay focused. Let’s all stand tall, pick up our feet, and know our mission, the mission of discipleship.