First Person: Praying for those standing at a distance

Ann Lovell

April 1. Maundy Thursday. “We are fools for Christ’s sake,” Paul wrote to the Corinthians. As insomnia gathered steam last night and the reel-to-reel of my life’s choices played through my mind, the “foolish” things took center stage: Leaving everything behind in 1999 to move overseas; trying to raise a family in cultures that were foreign to me; starting a ministry among exploited women; Christmas caroling one year in a red-light district in Thailand; encouraging a group of women to sing praise songs in a boxing ring in that same red-light area a few years later. Foolish. Crazy. What was I trying to prove?

As I read again the events of that first holy week in Luke, I realize how crazy Jesus may have appeared to those He encountered in Jerusalem. It started with riding a donkey into town on Sunday; then, pitching a holy fit in the temple on Monday. Thursday would bring dinner with His disciples, and, by the time the day ended, Jesus would be in custody—betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter. All the disciples, except John, would flee for their lives. It would appear their “Savior” was no Savior at all.

And when it couldn’t seem to get any worse, Friday came. A speedy trial with false witnesses. The “spectacle” of the crucifixion, as Luke described it. After the spectacle, the crowds left. “But all who knew Him, including the women who had followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things,” Luke wrote.

How foolish they must have felt. How crazy. What had they been trying to prove following a man like this? Heartbroken. Confused. Hopeless.

Sunday came, and that changed everything. But this weekend, I plan to spend some time thinking about those who stood at a distance, trying to figure it all out.

Among the nations today are millions who are standing at a distance, trying to decide if Jesus is worth following. They haven’t yet experienced the glory of the resurrection. They don’t understand it. But in the midst of their own personal hopelessness and confusion, they are intrigued by One willing to give His life for theirs.

I’ve met some who stand at a distance. I’ve had conversations with them, here and overseas. Some eventually embrace the saving faith Jesus offers. Others don’t. When they don’t, I know they think I’m a fool, and I sometimes feel foolish. But like Paul, “I know the One I have believed in.” Jesus has given meaning and purpose to my life. I want the same for all who have yet to hear.

Will you pray with me this weekend for all who are standing at a distance from faith in Jesus Christ? Will you ask God for the foolishness to share the hope of the resurrection with those who have yet to hear?

Sunday’s coming, and that changes everything. Until then, trust the “foolishness” of the One who gave His life so you might live.