“Come, Follow Me” – How Ready and Willing Am I?

Come, Follow Me

“Come, follow me, Grandma!” My grandson yelled over his shoulder as he grabbed his sled and sped down the steep snow-laden hill. The sun brightened the day, but failed to soften the biting crispness of the winter air. With fingers numbing in the cold and heals dug in, I hesitated, evaluating the outcome and standing in reluctance. For generations, our family enjoyed sledding together down these familiar slopes. The pages of my photo album chronicle many such outings.

Today was different!

As I stood on the crest of the hill, I realized I wasn’t as young as I once was. Broken bones don’t heal quite as quickly as they once did. My aging body doesn’t flex like it did a few decades ago. But alas, fun called! I lassoed my courage in one giant breath, lifted my heals and pushed off. Wind and snow pelted my face, forcing icy crystals around my neck and blurring my vision. Holding frantically to the inner tube beneath me, I creased my eyes tight as I veered off course, slamming into a bluff of shrubs and trees. With limbs intact, I flung my arms wide in the air, signalling triumph to the onlookers (laughing wildly, I might add). Obviously, I lived to tell the tale and smile in the remembrance. 

Waiting and watching

This invitation was risky, but invitations come in many forms. Invitations to weddings, baby showers, dinners with friends, picnics or vacations. Someone thought of us. Someone values our presence. The response to the invitation rests with each one of us. Will we pass up the opportunity, or be counted in?

Sometimes, we consider the cost more carefully. Future outcomes lay hidden. Resulting consequences questionable. “Come, follow me!” should cause us to ask at least a few questions before we jump on board. 

“Come, Follow Me.”

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people. At once they left their nets and followed him.” 
Mark 1:17,18

Simon and Andrew never requested a legal contract validating Jesus’ ability to lead or adequately compensate them for their efforts. “At once” they followed. A little further down the beach, Jesus summoned two more fishermen, the brothers James and John.

Birds on water

Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat
with the hired men and followed him.”
Mark 1:20 

Don’t be confused! Their decision carried serious consequences. When they walked away from their father and the fishing business, they also left security, a predictable income, and peer credibility. They chose Jesus above their families and any earthly benefits. Jesus called these dedicated, mature business owners into futures they could not yet comprehend. 

Jesus recognized qualities in these hardworking men that would be essential for the demanding ministry ahead. Though rough around the edges, Jesus noticed in them the ingredients of greatness. His invitation to “Come, follow me!” held unprecedented risk — ultimately costing them their lives. 

Followers

Eventually, the numbers of people following Jesus aroused the suspicion of many, the jealousy of others, and the anger of still more. The multitudes which followed sought healing, deliverance, and food for their bellies. Others followed out of curiosity. A few followed with evil intent, waiting to catch Jesus in his words. 

Come Follow Me

The outward appearance of this rag-tag group of disciples concealed the mighty world-changers they would become. Jesus chose those who would be passionately committed and deeply involved in the work of ministry. He sought those who would courageously stand in the face of adversity and death. All-in, nothing held back, trusting, independent, and teachability! 

Many God honoring men and women turned and walked away. The cost of following Jesus was greater than they were willing to make. A wealthy young man in Matthew 19 is a prime example.

Since childhood, to the best of his ability, he lived for God. Yet, he knew he lacked something. He asked Jesus what more he could do.

” . . . sell your possession and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Matthew 19:21

Sadly, he walked away, hoping to find an easier path, a cheaper alternative, a less painful option.

Everyone Come

Our response to Jesus’ call to “come, follow me” reveals more about the motivations of our hearts than we realize. Just maybe, His invitation discloses how deeply we hold to the temporary pleasures and comforts of the world.

The open invitation to follow Jesus still stands. Unfortunately, we too often relate to the wealthy young man or those in the parable of a banquet. Jesus says that everything is prepared and waiting for anyone willing to come. Throughout the streets and byways, messengers announced the good news.

Come, for everything is now ready. But they all alike began to make excuses.”
Luke 14:17-18

Though their reasons appeared valid and their response polite, they all missed a once in a lifetime opportunity. At the core, they all made excuses! Funny, how much validity we give to our frail reasoning. The Master in the parable knew both the weakness of their arguments and inevitable consequences of their failure to respond.

Compel Them

The Master became outraged by the feeble responses. The parable foretells a wedding celebration unlike any other. The union of Jesus Christ and His bride, the church. It speaks with urgency.

Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame . . . Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.”
Luke 14:21-23

Ducks Diving

Excuses won’t matter then! The Master will fill the seats — if not with us, with others.

Every invitation requires preparation, setting aside other commitments, our time, and perhaps gifts. “Come, follow me!” carries a price, too. Our dedication to Jesus means more than lounging at banquet tables or sitting idly under shady trees.

“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”
Matthew 10:38

The cross for some may seem insignificant, but for others weighty. In following we become servants, messengers, and ministers caring for the needs of others above our own. In following, we commit everything we are and have to Him. We are no long our own; “we have been bought with a price” (1 Cor 6:20).

The Reward

The rewards of following Jesus Christ are greater than could be compiled within a blog or list!

  • He lifts our burdens (Matt 11:28)
  • “Come, follow me!” leads us from the familiar into the miracle-moving, water-walking impossible (Matt 14:19, 28-29)
  • It brings us into the place of blessing and inheritance (Matt 25:34)
  • It welcomes us and others into the kingdom of God (Mk 1:17)
  • He provides quietness and rest (Mk 6:31)
Geese Lead and Follow

” . . . Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
John 7:37-38

We’ve all heard those get-it-now, time-limited offers. Though it may not seem like it, Jesus’ invitation fits into a similar category. When He returns, it will be too late. The doors will be closed and further access denied, unless you have already accepted His invitation to “Come, follow me!” Let’s not allow anything to keep us from responding.

” . . . I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”
2 Corinthians 6:2

Today, acknowledge the invitation. Jesus welcomes all to RSVP, “Yes, Lord, today I come!”

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Making the Impossible Possible – Clarity, Courage, and Committment

The rugged path between impossible and possible is navigated through clarity, courage and commitment. Each quality is essential!

Our hot water heater sprung a serious leak. Four days without hot water is a minor inconvenience. However, when outside temperature dips to -40°, a steaming hot bath before bedtime is a luxury I appreciated.

Representatives from two companies estimated the cost of replacing our near prehistoric heater. The first young man came, looked at the situation, and in less than one minute announced, “It can’t be done!” The second young men came, checked inside, outside, upside, downside, around the side, and over another side, before confirming, “Yea! No problem!” 

What made the difference? Both men were presented the same problem; both were experts in their trade. “Impossible” to one perhaps meant, “too much trouble!” “Possible” from the other displayed a willingness to overcome any obstacles.

Overcome

Challenge

A Chinese Proverb says, 

The person who says it cannot be done,
should not interrupt the person doing.”

Many vivid accounts of men and women who overcame impossible obstacles are written within the bible.

I think of Caleb one of 12 leaders Moses sent to spy out the promised land. “It can’t be done!” ten declared! Forty-five years later while the ten nay-sayers were cold in their desert graves, Caleb continued to believe, “With God’s help, I can“.

“So here I am today, eighty-five years old!
I am still as strong today
as the day Moses sent me out;
I’m just as vigorous to go out
to battle now as I was then.
Now give me this hill country
that the LORD promised me that day.”
Joshua 14:10-11

Caleb remained willing to face the challenge head-on! Ominous giants could not prevent him from possessing God’s promise.

Mountain

We all have “hill country”, an impossibility larger than personal ability. The nature of the obstacle is unimportant!

The way up!

A job promotion or demotion,
a dream delayed or one in the making,
managing financial abundance or
facing bankruptcy.

Problems can be polar opposites! Glass ceilings waiting to be broken, fragile mirages before omnipotent God! 

Sheri Fink reminded me recently clarity, courage and commitment are three essential ingredients necessary to accomplish victory. My past failures consistently resulted from a deficiency in at least one of these areas.

Nay-sayers and critics abound in every generation. “It can’t be done,” the noisy entourage gloats! Jeering relentlessly as the brave press against an impossible situation! Caleb’s resistance came from his own “tribe”. Our greatest detractors may be those who are the nearest to our hearts.  

For it is not an enemy who taunts me—
    then I could bear it;
it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—
    then I could hide from him.
But it is you, a man, my equal,
    my companion, my familiar friend.
Psalm 55:12-13

Mockers, with potential to stop us, ascend from the ranks of both friend and foe. 

Clarity

Clarity is “being certain or definite“. To an artist clarity means “sharpness to the image or sound”. Clarity for the Christian comes from knowing God’s intention, hearing His voice, and perceiving His direction. 

Impossible to possible

The wise ask, “What is God saying?”

It would be foolish for Caleb to face the military prowess of mighty mountain defenders without God’s direction.  

“I brought him back a report
according to my convictions
I followed the LORD my God
wholeheartedly.”
Joshua 14:7

There is a palpable difference between truth and conviction — between fact and faith! That veritable mountain we face is insurmountable without God!

Every person who stumbled in the bible, from Eve forward, doubted God. Each questioned and reasoned until faith dissolved into fragile unbelief before the very thing God meant them to overcome.

Clarity, genuine unshakeable clarity, is to know the presence, power and word of God for our specific situation.  Without clarity one will effortlessly fall into rhythm behind the fear mongers. Without clarity conquerors become quitters

The enemy’s devious voice still echoes, “Did God really say?” (Genesis 3:1) 

Caleb set his face like flint!  His resolute conviction slapped the Deceiver up the side of the head! He knew,

“…Humanly speaking, it is impossible.
But with God everything is possible.”
Matthew 19:26

Everything is possible

Courage

Courage separated Caleb and the masses!

“But my fellow Israelites
who went up with me made the hearts
of the people melt in fear.” 
Joshua 14:8

A few fear-filled words turned believers into doubters, the brave into cowards! “Be careful little tongue what you say,” is more than a children’s chorus. Words carry the potential to destroy like wrecking balls or form building blocks!

“We can’t … they are too strongpowerful … cities are fortified and very large … Anakites, Amalekites, Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, Canaanites”. Panic raced through the entire camp causing hearts to faint and knees to tremble.

Two brave men courageously stood in the gap,

“We should go up
and take possession of the land,
for we can certainly do it.”
Numbers 13:30

It takes courage to “go up!” Only the brave will “take possession!” Courage affirms, “we can!”

Such courage germinates in the knowledge of God’s abiding presence. It flourishes in the shadow of the One who promises to never leave nor forsake us.

Every overcomer rises above fear to “go up” in faith!

Commitment

I heard a story of a runner who intently prepared, conditioning body and mind, to run a marathon. He trained on a 26 mile course. After passing the 25 mile marker during his first marathon, he increased his pace pushing toward the finish line. The official length of a marathon is actually 26.2 miles. Miscalculating the distance, he started the sprint too soon and collapsed unconscious at the finish line. He was unprepared for the last .2 miles! 

Distance matters! It takes the tenacity of a marathon runner to face the impossible! It requires commitment to finish well!

“So on that day Moses swore to me,
‘the land on which your feet have walked
will be your inheritance
and that of your children forever,
because you have followed the LORD
my God wholeheartedly.'”
Joshua 14:9

Even though Caleb heard the clear word from God through Moses, it still took commitment to claim his promise. His entire generation died in the wilderness. Were there times of doubt in the desert?

Commitment

Caleb endured seemingly endless wandering in the wasteland, survived plagues, judgements and wars.  Yet, the promise echoed in his heart as clearly as the day it was spoken. 

Caleb refused to quit before he conquered! 

“Now then, just as the LORD promised,
he has kept me alive for forty-five years…”
Joshua 14:10

Forty five years of trusting, waiting, training, and persevering. Forty five years of commitment to God who is faithful. Caleb looked to the finish line; he ran the distance.

Take Your Mountain!

With Caleb as our example, let’s remember God is bigger, stronger, and greater than any mountain standing in our way! 

May we choose to fix our eyes on Jesus! Acknowledge that “great crowd of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1) cheering us on! Seeking the clarity needed from the Word of God, may we each take courage in His Presence, with commitment to conquer.

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus.
Everything is possible
for one who believes.”
Mark 9:23

Whether the mountain is a difficult obstruction or a dream unfulfilled, let’s go for it! How many new songs will be song, books published, and missions accomplished if we do? God is ready to partner with you in your impossible, creating a place for Him to receive glory?

Don’t quit! Conquer! Turn the impossible into possible!

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Further Reading:

Second is Better Than First! When Second is Best!