By: Kristen L. McNulty
At least 23 times in the New Testament Jesus is recorded as saying those two powerful, yet somewhat terrifying words: "follow Me".
He didn't say get religious. He didn't say believe in me, but follow your own path. He said "follow Me". And those two words are terrifying to us because they represent not just a shift in our perspective, but a radical change in our lifestyle.
When you are standing in the electronics department and the voice in your head is telling you the path to happiness lies in that shiny little package, follow Me.
When you are walking by a person in obvious need of assistance but you shift your eyes so you can tell your soul that you didn't see the need, follow Me.
When you are tired after a long day at work and the television beckons you to escape from your life for a few hours, follow Me.
When you are debating which job to take, which school to apply to, or which person to marry, follow Me.
To many of us the prospect of what those two words might really mean scare us so badly that we fill our schedules, never allowing us to slow down long enough to really think about what those words might mean. And then when busyness doesn't do the trick we buy stuff and more stuff and then more stuff yet again, trying so hard to run away from where He's calling us that we find ourselves lost in our own lives.
But what is truly a tragedy is that while trying to live life on our own, rarely thinking about where Jesus would have us be, we find that we're living a life that isn't much of a life after all. We feel hollow and empty inside, knowing that there must be more to life than this, but not realizing that the answer lies in those two words- "Follow Me".
In the book of Matthew, chapter 16, after Jesus asks us to follow Him, He says something that is the key to living life abundantly with Him here and now.
Jesus said: "If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?" (Matthew 16:25-26)
It sounds like a contradiction, but it is true. When we follow our own path and try to hang onto our desires and our plans, we lose everything, including our own souls. But when we give our lives up for His sake we find a treasure that is not only of great value in the next life, but in this life as well.
Just think about the people you know. Are the ones with all the stuff and the money and the "me,me" lifestyles the ones who are enjoying their lives and finding joy in the midst of any circumstances? No, chances are its the people who have given up the most for God, whether that's time, money, or opportunity, that are the ones who are really living life and finding joy in the everyday. And why? Because they are doing exactly what God created them to do. When Jesus calls us to follow He doesn't lead us into things to make us miserable. He leads us into things that bring purpose, whether to ourselves or to those He places in our paths. And when we follow even when we run into painful circumstances or things we don't understand it's okay because we're not there alone, Jesus is right there with us to give us strength, send His peace, and let us know that it's going to be okay.
Allow me to close with a quote from the book Kisses from Katie, authored by a young woman who followed where God lead and found a life far from what she expected, but filled with the kind of purpose and joy that we don't have to wait until heaven to find. She wrote:
"I'm running from things that can destroy my soul, complacency, comfort and ignorance. I am much more terrified of living a comfortable life in a self serving society and failing to follow Jesus than I am of any illness or tragedy." (Katie Davis)
Wise words and ones we all should follow!
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