When I was about 15 years old, several of us were walking along a path. One was on a pushbike. As he passed me, the chain came off, so he said "Quick, Niv. Give me a push". I pushed him sideways and he fell onto the grass. He yelled at me saying "Hey, what did you do that for?" I quickly responded amidst the laughter of all present, "well, you asked me to give you a push!"
Often we get pushed sideways, and not necessarily by friends, and not always onto the grass. We work out our life plan and travel along the road, then something comes in from the side derailing us — often pushing us over. We find ourselves on the grass or dirt, but it's no laughing matter. That sideways push can be medical problems arising, family issues, job losses, extra tax bills, or something to do with business. We didn't see it coming, it wasn't in our plan, and it stopped us in our tracks as we were coasting along.
Many disciples found themselves pushed sideways. Peter when challenged by Paul about the Jews (Galatians 2:11–13). Peter had a name as a strong follower of Christ. He was one of the original disciples. He enjoyed a great reputation for walking on water. Because of that history, he probably went unchallenged by other workers of Christ. And yet he was pushed sideways when corrected by Paul in front of others. He was brought down a rung or two on his own ladder. It was embarrassing.
Stephen the martyr (Acts 6-7) was busy doing his work as a deacon and performing great wonders and miracles amongst the people — until he was pushed sideways. Grabbed by jealous religious zealots who set up a false court, he quickly found himself before false judges. A couple of days later, he was being stoned to death and wondering those types of thoughts we all have in times of trouble "what will my family do?" ''What about the ministry?" and of course, "Is this the end? So soon?"
The question is, as fellow believ-ers how do we respond?
The friend I pushed off the bike was pushed sideways again five years ago when his doctor told him he needed an urgent operation. He ended up having seven consecutive operations and was off work for eighteen months.
He needed to spend all his savings and much of his superannuation on medical bills and is fortunate to be alive today. But, he is working again, harder than he ever did, has recouped the money he spent, and banked more than he had in many years. He is not what people might call a typical Christian, but his basic belief is that Jesus was with him all the way through.
Can you say that when you get pushed sideways?
All of us have been pushed sideways, which has left us bewildered for a time. As we grow into becoming fully reliant on God, our unexpected 'sideways' vulnerabilities become part of our walk — a part we don't enjoy but they nevertheless come upon us. We might feel quite stunned to begin with, but the Lord is there with us through it all. We get back on the bike.
The Lord knows all about sideways falls. He was there at the beginning of the world and has seen every generation since, remember? What we need to believe is that He is the master of picking us up when we fall to the grass or dirt, getting us back on the bike, pointing us in the right direction, and even fixing our bike chain.
Today's prayer:Dear Lord, I have been pushed sideways like this guy more than once. Please open my eyes to appreciate that you are there with me, helping me through those times of pain and heartache and the fear of what comes next.