When people in the first century heard the voice of Jesus saying, "Follow me," it wasn't a mystical invitation. It was a literal one. It involved travel.
But how do you follow Him in the 21st century? What would it look like to follow Jesus in 2014? Click here for my reflections on that question.
The colors of autumn are muted this year, thanks to a leaf fungus that has metastasized inward from the edges, speeding death. Still, radiant yellows, glowing oranges and hemorrhaging reds have exerted stubborn, spotty brilliance, bordering winding roads with breathtaking surprises. The saturation level is disappointing, but the glory is resilient.
I am not just talking about leaves. I am talking about people. People like those I met on the streets of Portland not long ago. Trudy, slumped and sunken by life’s hardships, yet tender and vulnerable. Shannon, penniless and bruised by abuse, but still dreaming of a medical career. Even Jack, filthy and drunk as he was, displayed with his wit and grit the residue of wasted potential.
Diseased yet glorious. That is what creation is, and that is who we are. A little lower than the angels, spotted with the fall’s decay, waiting for the restoration that will surely come at winter’s end.
I was talking to a friend who had made a big decision that resulted in a major shift in his life situation. He was trying to settle into his new normal, but everything felt abnormal, and he couldn’t help but wonder if he had done the right thing.
He had, and I knew it. Why? Because he had heard and heeded the voice of God? No, this was a decision he had to make at a time when God was silent. Yet I knew he was where God wanted him to be, because he was living as God wanted him to live.
I couldn’t remember the reference or the exact words of the promise, so I paraphrased it, and then later I tracked it down. It’s in Psalm 37:23, which says: “If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm….” That verse tells us that obedience is the key to guidance. Of course it’s important to seek the Lord through prayer, Scripture, and wise counsel, but even when those commitments fail to yield clarity, we can walk through the fog with confidence, knowing that God will never let those who love Him get lost.
That’s what I told my friend, and after I hung up the phone, that’s what the Spirit of God told me. I too have oftened fretted about decisions I have made without clear direction. I have wondered whether I did the right thing, and how things might have been different had I chosen to go right instead of left. “Relax,” the Spirit seemed to say to me. “You’re right where I want you to be.”
And if your life is marked by obedience to God, so are you.