When my son and I were traveling home from California last year, we had to drive through the Mojave Desert. This was late June, and the temperature has risen to 113 degrees. I had read about the heat from books, but to feel it first hand was memorable. At one point there was a car accident which delayed traffic for several minutes. The car air conditioner was overwhelmed, and we had to keep the windows down while we waited. I will not soon forget what that felt like. The heat felt like a blast furnace, even in "dry" heat. I was so thankful when we able to get through it.
Peter had his own "blast furnace" in the gospel of Mark. Peter was a big talker about how he would never leave or deny Jesus. But when confronted by a servant girl about being with Jesus, he crumbled like a sand castle hit by the water at high tide. "Nope,never heard of him!" And it got worse from there. After three denials Jesus looks at him, and Peter runs off, crying bitterly.
Before I get to finger pointing at Peter, I must ask myself: Do I cherish my life so much that I would do anything to preserve it? Would I lie, steal, cheat, run and hide, because I am associated with Jesus? It is amazing how I can declare firmly I am a Christ follower from the comfort of my church seat, or my air conditioned home. But what about the North Korean Christ follower sitting in an extermination camp today? He is surviving the "heat" in the real world, ready to lay down his life.
As following Christ becomes more obnoxious and a stench to those who truly hate Him in America, who point to us and say, "He's a Christ follower!" in disdain, how will we handle our "Mohave Desert" then? I pray that you and I will be found faithful in that blast furnace.