I started hunting with my dad around age 9. That was when I really began to enjoy the outdoors though I did have fears that were difficult to shake. As a young, novice hunter, I was terrified of guns. When I reached age 11, Dad began to leave me in select spots while he hiked off to other parts of the woods. Dozens of scenarios raced through my mind while I sat. What if something happened to Dad? Would I need to search for him or find my way back to the truck? What if the gun blew up in my face? What if I had to spend the night alone in the woods? What if, what if, what if?
Sometime around noon, I would hear the unmistakable sound of crunching leaves. There through the brown and gray forest came the blaze orange. Dad’s arrival was always bitter-sweet. Bitter because that meant the hunt was over. Sweet because now all my anxieties vanished like a deer tip-toeing into the thicket. I had no clue how to reach civilization, but no worries—I was with my dad again.
We see an interesting parallel during the days of Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. Though I can imagine the terror of Christ’s disciples being greater than my petty concerns, they faced similar circumstances when their leader and protector was taken away from them. The same disciples who had witnessed miracles from the Master’s hand were now running like cowards. Peter denied our Savior three times. Eleven fled to hide out, fearing their own arrest. One committed suicide. Thomas doubted.
In John 14 & 16, Jesus shared a puzzling piece of news. He was going away and this other Being—just like Him—was coming to be with the Eleven. This Being was the Holy Spirit, the Advocate. The disciples had walked by Jesus’ side for 3 years. They lived with Him, communed with Him and thought they were willing to die for Him. Just as I felt invincible around my dad, imagine their resolve while walking in the literal shadow of the Almighty. How could they fail their first test so miserably? As Jesus issued the Great Commission, He left them with these six words, “And surely I am with you always….” But how could this be when He’s catapulting toward the clouds?
Again—no worries! In Acts 2:3, 4, we see the arrival of another glorious blaze of orange. The Holy Spirit descends upon the disciples; the Bible describes His presence to be like “tongues of fire” resting on each apostle. Everything happens just as Christ predicted. Amazingly, we see Peter and the other apostles emboldened to stand and proclaim the Gospel, their fears eclipsed by a greater power. Jesus was with them in a new and better way. The world has never been the same.
Thank you, God for Jesus’ promise of the Spirit. Help us to know your presence every step we take down the trail of life.