No Turning Back

No Turning Back; I Must Go Through

I’m going through, I’m going through,

test_trialsI’ll pay the price, whatever others do;

I’ll take the way with the Lord’s despised few;

I’m going through, Jesus, I’m going through.

–“I’m Going Through” by Herbert Buffum

From my early days of remembrance as a child, I recall singing this gospel hymn in church. My father (who was my pastor) was also my worship leader. In his beautiful deep melodic baritone voice, he instructed the congregation that we would sing all four verses of the hymn. Then he would look over at my Mom seated at the piano and conducted her to play the hymn in “four-flats!” to indicate the song would be played in the key of Ab. She played a short introduction and then the congregation stood on their feet singing and proclaiming their commitment to go through with Jesus, no matter the cost.

Song Service, as it was called, was that part of the worship service where people could call out the hymn number of their favorite hymn from our Melodies of Praise (1957) hymnals. People shouted out their hymn number and the conductor of the service would acknowledge someone seated in the audience at his or her discretion. There were some members who would call out the same hymn number in every service. It was the responsibility of the person leading the service not to show any partiality or favoritism in song choices by selecting a friend or family member. Those were beautiful times growing up in the life of our church.

Today we only sing from our hymnals on special occasions. The hymnbooks have been stored away until they are needed. Hymns are now electronically beamed on large screens in our church. Conductors are now called worship leaders or ministers of worship. No one shouts out his or her favorite hymns anymore—not unless you want an usher to escort you out of the sanctuary for being out of order, intoxicated, violent, or in need of special counseling.

I needed this hymn this morning. I needed to sing it and sing it out loud at the top of my voice! “I’m going through, Jesus, I’m going through!” Yes, like every other believer, I too must go through trials, tests, and through the daily vicissitudes of life. Pastors are no different. Ministry is a constant and everyday burden to carry. The Apostle Paul said, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). It doesn’t matter whom you are or what position you may hold in the church—we must go through!

Thankfully, Jesus assures us that even though we go through tribulation and feel persecuted at times to be joyful because He has already “overcome the world” for us (John 16:33). So then why don’t I take comfort in these words? Why do I feel angst, frustration, and at times, depression over the test and trials I go through? I agree with Dr. Richard Joseph Krejcir’s argument that,

To be a content Christian and happy with life, we need to see life as a series of problem solving and learning opportunities. Because the problems we face will either overwhelm and overpower us or grow and develop us. Thus, the path of joy is determined by how we respond to them. Unfortunately, most people including Christians will fail to see God’s hand in their life. Choosing instead to focus on their problem and allowing it to take over their lives: Like a terrorist holding them at gunpoint and refusing to allow the help to rescue them.[i]

The Holy Spirit is teaching me and developing me so that I might grow and become more like Jesus, so that I might testify like the Apostle Paul who said, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). It’s not about me. It’s all about Him and I am called to be His witness so “that may know Him in the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering” (Philippians 3:10).

I’ve loss friends (and those I thought were friends), associates and colleagues, deaths in my family, and relationships that sadly have become villainous over the years. There are times when no matter what I may choose to do, I must go through—and this has not always been a joyful experience. However, 1 Peter 1:6-9 encourages me that,

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

I don’t like trials but I’ve learned they are all a part of life, and growing as a Christian. Romans 8:28 says “all things work together for the good” and God wants to use my problems for good, to make me better and stronger. Trials come for my personal development, and in the process, I’ll be able to help others in their lives.

However, for the believer in Christ the journey is as important as the destination. If you’re not willing to go through you will never reach your destination. I’ve come to far now to turn around. When I think about what all those early saints went through to get to heaven—their testimonies, their walk with God, their faith believing there was something better than this life—I am determined to go through. Just like the hymn says, Yes, I’ve started with Jesus, and I’m going through!

[i] Krejcir, Richard J., (2000). Discipleship Tools, an online Christian newsletter. Retrieved April 22, 2016 from http://www.discipleshiptools.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=37254

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