Shocking, isn’t it? How could anyone decide to stop walking with Him? It’s Jesus, people!
At the beginning of this chapter, He had fed them ~ 5,000 + of them ~ with just two fish and five loaves of bread. They loved that so much they wanted to make Him their King. But that was not God’s plan.
Then He shared something amazing with them ~ even better than the bread He had just recently given them. He talked to them about the Bread of Life. “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which brings everlasting life.”
That’s huge, of course. A game-changer. But for a lot of them ~ most of them, maybe ~ it was not what they wanted. They wanted lunch. But that was not God’s plan.
It’s not uncommon for us to be disappointed in God’s plan. We have hopes for our own lives, and a strong desire for Him to bring those hopes to fruition for us. But in a lot of ways, our lives fall short of our expectations.
We forget how much, sometimes, I think. Our “Wish List” for life evolves, which is good. Every once in awhile, for instance, I remember that it was once my desire to have four kids. But 25 years later, after medical issues and specialists and fertility drugs, I couldn’t be any more grateful and joyful for the two kids I have.
Do I wish things had gone differently, and that I did have four kids? Nope. I can’t imagine my family being any better than it is.
I also planned on raising my kids somewhere other than Southern California. I’m more of a mountain and snow and cold-weather gal, really. But my family was here and my husband’s family was here and his job was here and there just never seemed to be a way.
My daughter graduates from high school this year, and my son will be a sophomore, and it’s really a fait accompli. Despite my plans and hopes, my kids have been raised in the So Cal culture. That’s not changing.
Do I wish my kids were more “something” or less “something”? Nope. They are my favorite people in the world. They are wise, funny, thoughtful, interesting people. I can’t imagine them being any better than they are.
God doesn’t really care about our plans. Yes, He hears our prayers and yes, I believe He answers them. Does He ever orchestrate things to give us what we’re hoping for? Yes, I believe so. He is a God of miracles, and sometimes that means that the forecast rain never materializes on the day of your big event, just as it meant that the Red Sea parted and the water turned to wine.
But our plans are not His priority. He had His plan long before we had ours, after all. And I know that if my plan and His plan ever diverge, He’s going to go with His.
So the question is, what do I do when that happens? How do I react when I realize that He hasn’t brought about the miracle I was praying for? How do I respond when He promises me eternal life, instead of the ideal earthly life I was hoping for?
I can walk away, of course. Just as those people in verse 66 did. But if I do, was I ever really following Him to begin with? Or was I just walking near Him? After all, I spend a lot of time driving behind other people, but I wouldn’t really say I’m following them. Following is about allegiance. At most, I think those who walked away from Jesus could best be described as “trying Him out” or “weighing their options”.
But that’s not what life-saving following is about. To follow that Man is to follow God Himself, now as then. Which is to want His plan, and then stay behind Him no matter what.