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Burn Your Bridges

Posted by: Kim Stiver
Breathe: Fruit That Will Last
Focus Verse: “Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’.” John 20:28-30

Many of the things Jesus asked His disciples to do were difficult or seemingly impossible, but that didn’t stop them from doing them … eventually, that is. In what is perhaps one of the most often quoted passages in the Bible (other than Psalm 23 and John 3:16), Jesus gives all believers this simple but incredibly ambitious command in Matthew 28:19-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” We love hearing that last part. We want Him to be with us always, but most of us have struggled with the first part in some way or another. The first part involves considerable risk… to our reputations. To our comfort. And possibly to our very lives, depending on where God sends us. Essentially, Jesus is asking us to go forth for Him and leave our bridges burning behind us. The disciples, on the other hand, understood that first part well. Repeatedly Jesus had told them to drop everything to become His real followers (Luke 14:33, Mark 8:35). So this last command from Him before He ascended into heaven was probably not a surprise to them. The disciples’ own reaction to His command, however, must have astonished them. Why? Because up until this point they had failed miserably at doing most of what He had asked them to do. They may have pledged to burn their bridges, but most of them turned and fled right back over them into their previous comfort zones in the days following the crucifixion. 
But this time was different. This time they would indeed do the impossible. Within 10 days of this final command from their risen Lord, fire came down from heaven and not only set their souls ablaze, but also obliterated their bridges in one fell swoop. We know from Luke 24:49 that following His resurrection, Jesus had instructed them to stay in Jerusalem to wait to receive God’s power — a power that would literally engulf their lives, swallow up their doubts, and set them on fire for the Kingdom. Acts 2:1-4 describes the power that came upon them: “On the day Pentecost was being fulfilled, all the disciples were gathered in one place. Suddenly they heard the sound of a violent blast of wind rushing into the house from out of the heavenly realm. The roar of the wind was so overpowering it was all anyone could bear! Then all at once, a pillar of fire appeared before their eyes. It separated into tongues of fire that engulfed each one of them. They were all filled and equipped with the Holy Spirit and were inspired to speak in tongues—empowered by the Spirit to speak in languages they had never learned!”
Following their baptism by the Holy Spirit, the disciples were empowered to fulfill Jesus’ command to go throughout the world sharing the Gospel and teaching countless people how to burn their own bridges in wild abandon to God. Leaving their old priorities, lifestyles, and desires smoldering in the dust behind them, they joyfully gave all they had to share the miracle that had happened to them so that no one would face eternity without Jesus. But that was over 2,000 years ago, and just as the years between the disciples and us are many, so are our doubts regarding that kind of power being available to us. Jesus isn’t surprised by our doubts, however. In responding to Thomas, one of the disciples, Jesus said in John 20:29 (The Message version), “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.” Notice that Jesus says our blessings are more significant than that of the disciples! We often think that the disciples had something we don’t have, but Jesus is telling us we have more. 
So, whether you get nervous at just the thought of sharing your own faith journey with someone else or if you’re hesitant to step out by serving others in some way, take a deep breath and then exhale slowly knowing that it’s okay to feel that way. You’re normal. You’re loved. And you’re empowered. Your feelings and nerves have nothing to do with the potency or the promise of the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life. Regardless of how you feel, Jesus’ presence with you is real, and if you step out on faith in obedience to His leading, He will be there. When you lift your foot to step, He’ll provide the solid foundation for it to land on. When you trust Him to do His work, and if you don’t try to make it happen within your own power, smarts, cunning, or might, He’ll show up. You can’t save anyone. You can’t teach anyone. Neither could the disciples… without the Spirit of Jesus, that is. So take another deep breath again. Close your eyes and imagine Jesus at your side. Then exhale as He hands you the match to burn your bridges.

Scripture Meditations for this week:

Wednesday: Romans 8:2-6

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