“…let these men go.” John 18:8 (NIV)
Do you know your limits? Sometimes you do and sometimes you do not. Recently, when staying with a friend of mine he told me about climbing up Mt. Kilimanjaro to the very peak with a group of people led by experienced guides. The intended climb was to take them up to the 19,340 foot high peak on the highest free standing mountain in the world.
My friend and his wife are in superb physical condition and were physically fit for the ascent. He spoke to me of the psychological battles they felt as they experienced altitude sickness which is caused by the low levels of oxygen at higher altitudes.
No one can survive permanently above 17,000 feet above sea level. Members of the group became acutely nauseous the higher they went, some had to quit and descend, some had an overpowering desire to just lie down and sleep for 15 minutes.
Any thought of lying down and resting for a short time was suicidal. Everyone knew it but the temptation was so powerful. Feelings tried to overcome logic as the guides encouraged their charges to continue. My friend actually thought he had finally pushed himself too far and was going to die on the mountain. Thankfully for his family and friends he finished the trek somehow.
In life we do find ourselves ready to quit even when we know we need to push on and keep going. To wake up in the morning and just pull the covers over our heads and try to go back to sleep and make the world disappear is a temptation so strong we almost succumb. Sadly the world seems to march on ignoring our pain and suffering and we wonder how it can be so cruel.
The disciples of Jesus had bitten off more than they could chew. They had promised Jesus a couple of hours earlier that they would stay with Him to the death. Now, when they are in front of the Roman soldiers who are armed to the teeth, they forget their promise and become fearful for their own lives.
Jesus, knowing that they had boasted of much more than they could produce at that time in their lives, was prepared for the emergency with a word that facilitated their cowardice. Realizing that the disciples could not follow Him to the death at that time Jesus made a way of escape for them.
Is it not remarkable how Jesus knows and understands the limits of His people and does the best thing at the right moment to keep us from losing it altogether? When the disciples falter under the pressure of the situation Jesus comes to the rescue and deals with the issue His followers could not. They needed to forsake Him and break their promise to stay so He accommodated their fears. He made a way for them to escape the threat.
When you find life overwhelming turn to the One who has authority to dismiss the problem or Who can strengthen you to endure. We must leave the alternatives with Him. Perhaps we shall escape like the disciples or else we will be given the strength to carry on as my friend did on that mountain.
Will you leave the choice to Him? He is the One who has all wisdom and is best able to determine if you escape or endure. But whatever He chooses for you it will be best.