You go nowhere by accident.
Wherever you go, God is sending you.
Wherever you are, God puts you there.
He has a purpose in your life.
Christ who indwells you has something He wants to do through you where you are.
Go, in His grace and love and power.
~ A benediction by Dr. Richard C. Halverson, Chaplain of the U.S. Senate from 1981 to 1994
Simon did not go to Jerusalem that day by accident. Though he did not realize it at the time, God had sent the strong and able Simon on a special assignment.
As far as Simon knew, he had simply traveled to the Holy City from his hometown of Cyrene on the African coast to attend the Passover. But on that pivotal Friday, he suddenly found himself placed at the forefront of a momentous event – an event that not only changed him forever but also forever changed the world.
Entering the city, Simon observed an angry, jeering mob, encircled by Roman soldiers, on its way to a public execution. In the center of the crowd was a Man carrying a large, heavy, wooden cross. Jesus, exhausted from scourging and beatings and weighed down by His cumbersome burden, suddenly stumbled and fell to the ground. The Scriptures tell us that the Roman soldiers, irritated by this delay, “compelled Simon, a Cyrenian, who passed by . . . to bear His cross” (Mark 15:21).
As Simon reached out his massive, muscular arms and large, capable hands to take up Jesus’ burden, the Lord looked into Simon’s eyes and into his heart. In an instant, the Cyrenian was transformed. No longer a lone and detached bystander but now a committed and compassionate helper, Simon proceeded to carry the cross, with Jesus walking along beside him.
From that moment on, Simon became a faithful follower of Christ, as did his family. Indeed, Simon’s sons, Alexander and Rufus, were later recognized as leaders of the early church.
Like Simon, we never know when we, too, may unexpectedly be thrust to the forefront of situations for God’s purposes. How many times have we all had experiences in which we suddenly were called upon to do something to help another, and our efforts turned out to be just what that person needed at that particular time? And when we look back on the episode, we marvel at how differently things could have worked out, if we had not been right there . . . in that place . . . at that very moment . . . to help. We come to realize that we were at the center of a truly edifying experience. I don’t believe we were there by accident or coincidence. I believe it was all part of God’s plan.
In his benediction, printed above, former chaplain of the U.S. Senate, Dr. Richard Halverson seems to agree with my belief, saying no matter where we are in life or where we go, there’s a reason we are there. There’s a purpose. God’s purpose. And when the time is right, that purpose is made evident to us. We are given a special, divine assignment.
This divine assignment might be as simple as helping a next-door neighbor who has suddenly become ill or frightened, by providing an encouraging note, a nutritious meal, or an uplifting book. Or, it might mean giving up a planned evening of fun activities and, instead, spending time with a lonely co-worker who is struggling with a problem and in need of a good listener. Or, it might even mean stepping into a daunting, new world of endeavor, one that carries with it much uncertainty, perhaps great risk, yet at the same time tremendous potential for good.
God has placed you where you are for a reason. He has a special assignment just for you, right where you are.
It’s reassuring to remember that, should we hear God’s call and accept our assignments, we will never go alone. As with the cross-bearing Simon of old, who bravely answered God’s call, Jesus will always be there, walking along beside us.