It’s dangerous to leave your post of duty, and Satan has an entire toolbox of tricks to lure us into spiritual AWOL. He wants us to run away from our responsibilities to our families, our jobs, our churches, or our friends.
Abe Lincoln might not have been shot if his bodyguard hadn’t left his post.
Even those pillars of the church, the original disciples of our Lord, left their posts of duty on a dark, history-changing night in the first century. In Mark 14, we have the account of Jesus being arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. One moment Jesus was alone with the disciples. The next moment, a detachment of soldiers entered the gates of the garden. After a fleeting second of mistaken bravado, the disciples turned and ran for their lives, deserting their posts, and forsaking their Master.
What makes any of us crumble when we’re faced with pressures or persecution?
The Danger of Failing to Pray
First, we’re apt to panic and flee if we’ve been neglecting our prayer time. Jesus had taken the disciples to this darkened garden in order to pray. “Sit here while I pray” (verse 32), He told them. Kneeling nearby, He began to pray very earnestly; but when He returned to check on the disciples, they were dozing. Jesus said, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (verses 37-38).
One of our real problems is a failure to pray for the church we’re attending. When a person is earnestly interceding for a congregation, its pastor, its staff, its ministries, claiming promises from God and anticipating how He will answer our prayers—it’s much easier to remain faithful through thick and thin.
Perhaps you’re thinking of giving up on your marriage. When you are really praying for your spouse, earnestly interceding for God to work in his or her life, it’s much easier to remain steady through the ups and downs. When we fail to pray, it’s easier to quit.
The Danger of Failing to Prepare
We’re also tempted to turn tail in tense situations when we fail to prepare.
It’s important to decide in advance what we will do in difficult positions. When Joseph was propositioned by the beautiful wife of Potiphar, he did just what the disciples did—he ran away. But in his case, it was a wise, strategic retreat based on previously-chosen moral convictions. “She caught him by his garment, saying, ‘Lie with me.’ But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside” (Genesis 39:12-13).
We must make up our minds in advance to flee from unrighteousness and to pursue godliness—though that means swimming against the current. Have you decided in advance what you’ll do if your friends try to pull you away from the Lord? If the Lord asks you to undertake a difficult assignment?
The Danger of Failing to Persevere
We’re also likely to become a spiritual deserter if we don’t have a strong commitment to persevere. Peter and his companions were mercurial in their commitment, strong one day and weak the next.
The Bible tells us we must choose to remain consistently strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. “Put on the whole armor of God,” Paul wrote, “that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11).
Little of eternal value is accomplished by shadowy figures fleeing in the darkness, abandoning their posts of duty. But there’s no limit to what happens when a few brave souls withstand the taunts, resist the pressures, hold their ground, and honor their commitments to Christ and to their families.
Just ask Peter and John. Three days later they were running again—this time to the Garden Tomb. And from that day, they never fainted, faltered, or failed. The shadows were lost in the rising of the Son.
What is God calling you to do? Don’t shirk you responsibility or run from your calling. Take a stand, dig in your spiritual heels, and press on toward the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
This article was excerpted from Turning Points, Dr. David Jeremiah’s devotional magazine. Call Turning Point at 1-800-947-1993 for your complimentary copy of Turning Points.
Dr. David Jeremiah is the senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California. Dr. Jeremiah is the author of many books, including Discover Paradise, Life Wide Open, Searching for Heaven on Earth, My Heart’s Desire, Grace Givers and the best-selling, Captured by Grace. His award winning international radio and television ministry, Turning Point, reflects his commitment to the truth of the Bible and to helping people understand how to apply biblical principles to everyday living. He is also a popular conference speaker. Dr. and Mrs. Jeremiah have four children and eight grandchildren.