Friday, April 1, 2011

Follow Me, Following Christ

LeapFEST '95 Military Parachute Competition, image courtesy of combatreform.org

PATTERN YOURSELVES after me [follow my example], as I imitate and follow Christ (the Messiah).1

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.2

I’ve been meditating on this verse throughout the week and as I thought on it, I began to realize how confident a statement it was to proclaim the words, Follow me. I began 2010 with a sincere desire to re-dedicate my life to Christ after years of living only for myself. It was my hope that I could fit nicely into the muted background and quietly go about my life as if nothing had ever happened.

The words, My thoughts are not your thoughts, still echo in my mind.

God knows I don’t want attention. It’s funny when I think about it, but all my life that’s exactly what I’ve wanted. I pleaded with God, offering reasons why I wasn’t adequate to write about faith in Christ, but He ignored my every protest.

Did you ask Me to forgive you?

Yes Lord.

Did you say,My life is in Your hands

Yes Lord…but…I can’t do this

Why?

I’m ashamed of the life I’ve lived.

Do you believe in the covenant of Christ?

Yes Lord.

Do you believe in the forgiveness of your sins?

Yes Lord.

Do you appreciate the grace I’ve extended to you?

Yes Lord.

Will you obey me?

I want to both answer and remain silent. If I say, “Yes”, I commit myself to do what He says. If I say, “No”, then, why have I asked for His forgiveness? I cannot turn back, but I’m afraid to step forward.

He waits for my answer.

Yes Lord, I will obey You.

This is how I began My Thought-filled Journey a year ago. I hoped he wouldn’t require much, but He’s only asked for my obedience. Still, there are moments in each day when I find myself overwhelmed that He forgave me, that He loves me, and that He gives me grace; when it is so undeserved.

In the past year, when I read or hear what He has imparted to other believers in Christ, I tell myself that I’ve learned so little about the measure of His love, and forgiveness.

Of the little I have learned, I’ve come to understand that He commands me to love and forgive others. While the phrase "He commands me", sounds so oppressive to the natural mind, it is a joy to those who choose to obey God.

I find it difficult to think that I would ever have the courage to say, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” Taking ownership of that kind of responsibility and saying to someone else, “Trust me, I know where I’m going.

It’s easy to follow, it far more difficult to lead.

As a follower:
  1. I can always complain about the direction I’m headed in
  2. I can question whether the leader knows where he or she is going
  3. When things aren’t going the way I planned, I can always just quit
I’m not a fisherman, but I’ve cut bait in my life enough times to know that I was never bothered by doing it (quitting). I never liked following anyone, never wanted instruction, and I never accepted correction.

I’m learning that humility goes hand-in-hand with following Christ, taking instruction, and accepting correction. I may not feel confident in telling someone to, “Follow me”, but I realize that every moment of my life is a demonstration of my willingness to follow Christ; whether I say follow me with confidence or not, my life is speaking for me. Others will see whom I follow.

The scriptures say,
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.3

And yet, I know there were times, I wished He didn’t. The Lord weighs my motives against the depth of my words.

What does it take to say the words, Follow me?

It takes a heart that seeks to please Him with my life. It takes a mind that has learned the importance of running to Him, rather than running away. It takes a realization that in this life, I walk by faith rather than sight. It takes believing that The Lord, He is God. It takes appreciating that His grace really is sufficient for me, even when my mind says that I need something more tangible. It takes me knowing that although I cannot undo my history, Christ empowers me to change my today, which will help shape my tomorrow.

Whether I say follow me with confidence or not, my life reveals whom I follow.

To be called a follower of Christ, or a Christian means I’m demonstrating the love, forgiveness, compassion, humility, and obedience of Christ in every aspect of my life. I haven't reached the end of my journey, nor have I reached the apex of my spiritual ascent...but I press on to grab hold of He who has taken hold of me.

Father God,

I praise You for Your goodness, mercy and grace. I cannot truly understand the depth of You love, but how I appreciate Your love for me! Who is like You? What is there to span the height, depth, length and breath of You? There is none like You Lord. You are teaching me to cast aside every weight and sin that brings me down to the depths of despair, replacing it with by focusing my eyes on Jesus Christ; the author of faith, even my faith. Order my steps Lord that I may come to know You better. Teach me the lessons of humility. I pray that I not forget Your deeds concerning my life. How You delivered me from sin and blessed me beyond measure. My life is revealed to You as an open book. I pray that my life help others discover You; that others learn of Your mercy, love and grace. When I fall Lord, and I will fall, not because I want to, but because I am weak, help me to stand up again and declare Your goodness.

Look on those seeking healing for their body, or the life of a loved one. Open the door of opportunity for that one who seeks employment. Touch the life of a child who needs love and encouragement. Pour out Your grace on that mother and father concerned about their child. You are The God of Possibility!. We know with You are things are possible, and we believe this. We trust You with our life. May You be please by the life we've chosen to live in honor of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Bless us today in Jesus name. Amen.


Note: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte and Ginger).Spiritual Sunday's

Footnotes:
  1. 1 Corinthians 11:1, Amplified Bible
  2. 1 Corinthians 11:1, NIV
  3. Psalm 139:23, NIV
References:
  1. The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6
  2. The Amplified Bible, by The Lockman Foundation, Zondervan Bible Publishers, Grand Rapids, Michigan, ISBN-13: 978-0310951414
  3. King James Version, The Crusade Analytical Study Edition, Crusade Bible Publishers, Inc., PO Box 90011, Nashville, Tennessee 37209
  4. The Message Bible, by Eugene H. Peterson, NavPress Publishing Group, Colorado Springs, CO, ISBN-13: 978-1600060250
  5. The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA
  6. The New Living Translation Bible, by Tyndale Charitable Trust, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois, ISBN-13: 978-0842384896

16 comments:

Sharon Kirby said...

MTJ - I prayed your prayer. So much of it expressed the cry of my heart today. Especially - "Order my steps, Lord, that I may come to know you better."

Right now, I am getting to know Him better in the wilderness. I scarce can voice to anyone that they should follow me. But oh - to follow HIM? Yes, indeed.

Reaching out with you to grab hold of Him who has taken hold of me.

GOD BLESS!

Whidbey Woman said...

MTJ- You have blessed me in several ways. Thank you so much.
I really enjoyed this post.

Charlotte said...

Thank you for sharing these insights on following Christ. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to really understand it and then I wonder if anyone really ever does. I like the words of the old hymn that says we'll understand it all by and by.
Blessings,
Charlotte

Joan said...

Like Sharon, I am learning to follow Him in the wilderness in this present time of my life.

But you know what? Through my husband's unemployment situation, we are learning more about Him. We've come to realize that it's not so much about him getting a job, but getting to know Christ more. That He would filter out all those impurities and things in our lives that prevent us from being able to say with confidence, "follow me as I follow Him." (I'm not there yet.)

Thank you for this wonderful post and prayer.

Blessings,
Joan

Renee said...

Following Christ is not always easy...in the wilderness especially. Your thoughtful post is very helpful today. Thank you for sharing your week's meditation on this verse with us.

Patti Hanan said...

It takes strength and humility to follow Christ, but there is no other way worth following. Thank you for this insightful post. The picture of the men jumping out of an airplane was a perfect illustration. Just as it takes a leap of faith to jump out of a plane, it takes a leap of faith to follow Christ, but it is the only choice worth making!

Pamela said...

While the phrase "He commands me", sounds so oppressive to the natural mind, it is a joy to those who choose to obey God.

Love this sentence. To those who aren't in love with Jesus it is oppressive. To those of us who love Him, obedience is beautiful and desired.

Such a good devotional.
Pamela

Anita Johnson said...

You have the ability to write what most of us cannot find the words for. "It takes appreciating that His grace REALLY IS (emphasis mine) sufficient for me, even when my mind says that I need something more tangible." Isn't that the truth!

Merana Leigh said...

You do realize, do you not, that by stepping out to follow Him....uncomfortable as that has been...you have touched & reached so many lives by what you've said, right? I, for one, count myself so incredibly blessed by the words you pen here & the encouraging e-mails we've shared.

Could not agree more with your comment, "I’m learning that humility goes hand-in-hand with following Christ, taking instruction, and accepting correction." It does not come easily, but it is definitely necessary!

Thank you for listening to what He called you to do! Hugs ~ Merana

Ruth said...

Thanks for your honest sharing. I hear some of the same arguments in my head when the Father speaks. How patient and persistent He is!
Blessings!

Ginger~~Enchanting Cottage said...

~~ He commands me to love and forgive others~~I think that so many people to to remember this. Thank-you for your beautiful prayer.
Blessings,
Ginger

Peggy (mazmagi) said...

AMEN! amen and amen!

Following Christ not following others or other ways... choosing to follow the One who guides and directs my steps,my path, my journey and yours.

Such very truthful,reflective and insightful words from one year ago until now, we have grown closer to following His way not ours... love so many of your words...

"I'm learning humility..."

"The Lord weighs my motives against the depth of my words."

"It takes a heart ... mind ... realization ... believing He is God ... appreciation ... knowing... Christ empowers me to change my today... my tomorrow."

"...whether I say follow me ... my life reveals whom I follow..."

and of course, your prayer.

I went back to read your first post last March, too! I'm truly blessed to see you objectively and kinda subjectively self examine... as God searches our hearts, tests us... yes, MTJ...this is it... tests us... and we are in that testing phase... because He definitely knows us, yes, even our not so proud of pasts... changed and being sanctified by Him as we grow in the loving knowledge of Him and His way, and yes, surrender our control, bit by bit... until we are remade into His likeness, and then with confidence we can say...Follow me as I follow Him... but ya' know, even in our imperfections we can point to Him,and our definite need
of Him as Our Leader,Our Savior, Our Deliverer, Our LORD! Not "do what I say not as I do"... but Lord, help us to do as You would have us to do and how we need to obey... as we long to be followers of You, to belong, to follow along.
God, help us not to quit but to seek Your way above our own and follow where and as You tell us to cast our "poles",so that the fish will know, WHO is the Captain of Our Ship, the authority in which we stand and bow to... that fellow Ship we're following, in His footsteps, no foe can stand against us... The keys of victory is His mighty hand,let us march on to take our promised land..."

Yes, onward and upward to our spiritual ascent continually... We cannot understand nor grasp the depths of His love, mercy or plan... but He is preparing us to wage a war and fight a good fight, never give in, never give up... You are not alone. We are not alone.

Thank You Lord, for these valuable words and lessons here... and I stand with my brother in Christ and say...amen!

Peggy (mazmagi) said...

ohhh who can believe I forgot anything with that much of a comment but I did.

I meant to let you know that I linked this up with that 3 part series I did, that you commented on last fall in the 1st of the 3... on "What it means to be a Christian".

I thought this certainly fits. And it goes along with your comment.

I wish I could remember which one I linked you to... hmmmmmmmm

Pain to Purpose said...

great post! I'm still praying!
Carrie

❀~Myrna~❀ said...

Amen, Our greatest demonstration of our love for Christ is to obey Him,
Great Post!
Blessings,
~Myrna

❀~Myrna~❀ said...

Thank you so much for praying for Eliana .