When I first began walking with Jesus, I was sure I knew all about him. It was a delight to give everything up for his sake, to fling myself out on a risky path of love. Now, I’m not so sure. Jesus is striding ahead of me, and he looks strange: “They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid” (Mark 10:32).

There is a side to Jesus that chills the heart and makes the spiritual life gasp for breath. This strange being, with his face set like flint and his striding determination, no longer appears as counselor and comrade. He has a point of view I know nothing about. At first, I was confident that I understood him, but now there is a distance between us; I can no longer be so familiar with my Lord. He is out ahead, and he never turns around.

Jesus Christ had to fathom every sin and every sorrow that could possibly afflict the human race: this is what makes him seem so strange. When we see him in this aspect, we don’t know him. He is a leader striding before us, and with dismay we realize that we don’t know how to follow him. We have no idea where he’s going, and the destination has become strangely far off. A sense of darkness surrounds us.

The discipline of dismay is a necessary part of discipleship. The danger is that we will try to escape the darkness by kindling a fire of our own. God says we must not: “Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord” (Isaiah 50:10). When the darkness of dismay comes, endure until it is over. Out of it will come a following of Jesus which is an unspeakable joy.

Wisdom from Oswald

The great word of Jesus to His disciples is Abandon. When God has brought us into the relationship of disciples, we have to venture on His word; trust entirely to Him and watch that when He brings us to the venture, we take it.  Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 1459 R