I try to avoid lots of things. Especially when it comes to driving.
Times of heavy traffic.
Poor visibility and snow/ice/rain.
Areas of construction.
Lane changes and merging.
Curvy roads and lanes that feel too narrow.
The only time that I actually don't feel stressed when I'm behind the wheel is when no one else is on the road. And that doesn't happen very often.
Last Wednesday I followed the suggested fastest route of the GPS to take David and Daniel to vision therapy. Unfortunately I discovered that there were way more cars on the highway than I expected at 2 in the afternoon, and I had to tell Daniel to stop talking to me so I could focus. At one point an 18 wheeler was crossing into my lane as he merged in from the shoulder on my right, while cars whizzed by me on the left. And I held my breath, as my knuckles turned white on the steering wheel.
“We are going to find a different route next week,” I vowed, once we had gotten safely past the truck and my heart rate returned to normal. “Not the highway again. There must be a better way.”
I am struck by the example of Jesus in the garden, who prayed so earnestly that his sweat was like blood, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:40)
The path would have been much easier for Jesus to avoid the cross.
But there was no other way.
So Jesus willingly walked that road.
As He hung on the cross, He was mocked by rulers, soldiers, and even one of the criminals who was hanging on a cross beside him:
“He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.”
“If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
“Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” (Luke 23:35-39)
But the truth was that if Jesus had saved Himself, He couldn't have saved us. So He didn't give in to that temptation (and we have no idea how great it might have been). He chose not to avoid the pain, the feeling of being deserted by His Father, the trip to Hell.
So that He could save us, who would not enter this world for many generations to come. He knew us and loved us even then.
“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
(Isaiah 53:4-5, emphasis added)
Jesus chose not to avoid the cross because of His incomprehensible love for us. Sinners, every single one, who would have betrayed Him in the same way that Judas and Peter did, if we had been there.
On the cross, in the midst of the temptation and the mocking, Jesus chose to focus on the future joy of our being reconciled to the Father and living together forever with us, within the fellowship of the Trinity.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:2-3)
Consider Him and don't lose heart.