Christians are told how important it is to continually follow Jesus. We are to follow Him constantly and consistently. We are to follow Him closely enough that others will see Jesus in us. It takes courage to follow Him. When we hear Jesus say to those who were scattered along the hillside, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all maner of evil against you falsely, for my sake,” we know that it took courage. When we read that as they followed Him they were afraid, we know that it took courage. Those of us who walk with Him know the courage it takes when some fear grabs at our heart. We know the courage it takes when we sense how far the road with Him can lead. We know the courage it takes when we sense how high the Christian adventure can lift us. We know the courage it takes when we sense how much acceptance and how much surrender it may mean.
There is an incident in the New Testament which turns our thinking completely around. It is full of human compassion which sooner or later touches all of us. A father full of grief had come to Jesus to tell about the death of his child. After telling Jesus, the father went straight to his house. Jesus followed. We don’t need someone to explain the deeper meaning of this drama. What happened so long ago has happened to every one of us. There have been times when we have poured out our hearts, said all there is to say, then went our way. Then we sensed we were not alone. Jesus followed. The soul knows it’s crisis, when our world falls apart and all certainty seems to disappear. There are no words in these moments. Our prayers are stifled. Fortunate is the man or woman who know in that hour they need not walk alone. After all, Christianity is a faith for crisis. It does not matter whether it is a crisis of joy or a crisis of sorrow.
Let us ask ourselves some questions that reach deep into us.
I. Have we the courage to ask Jesus to follow us to the place where we live?
Our home is our world. Everything we are is reflected there: our integrity, our vulgarity, the nature of our weakness, the nature of our strength. Do we have the courage to leave the door open so that Jesus can come in with us? Do we dare ask Him to be near us during those moments of intimate relationships when we say things the world must never know or hear? Would we wish Jesus to follow our thoughts no matter where they might lead? Would we want Jesus to follow our hopes and dreams no matter what they encircle?
II. Have we the courage to ask Jesus to follow us to the moment in which we are tested?
There are times when we are like a man sinking in the quicksand. We do not want to yield to our weakness, be we feel ourselves alone and helpless. We find ourselves in the grip of something that is not of ourselves. There are times our heart is divided and our mind is unclear. In that moment we may see the old standards of our parents by which we were raised grow hazy. We begin to rationalize and justify our actions. We seek to persuade ourselves we have found a better wisdom and a new morality. We live as though there is no future. If only then we could remember there is a tomorrow and tomorrow will be full of loneliness and remorse.
There are other times of testing when we must follow our course. There are times when we must stand against our own kind, when we must set ourselves against our own families and follow a voice that cannot be silenced. We cannot turn a deaf ear to that voice or turn from that sense of duty in ourselves. There is only one road and we must walk down that road. But there is that other voice whispering of the price we shall have to pay, and of the cross we shall have to bear. If in that moment we waiver, we will never be ourselves, and we will never build a better world.
III. Have we the courage to ask Jesus to follow us to the place of our fears?
There are those bitter days when our minds are torn by conflicts. We are afraid and our fear dominates everything we do. We do not trust ourselves for fear we will fail. We do not trust our friends for we are persuaded they cannot help us. Our souls are truly sick. Panic sets in and we run from psychiatrist to psychiatrist seeking relief. Do we then have the courage to ask Jesus to follow us to the place of our need?
What is it we do when our heart is troubled? We ask ourselves questions, but there are no answers. We find our hopes and dreams have been carried away. We look for fulfillment, but there is never any end. We grow bitter about life. But it might have been different if we had asked Jesus to follow us. How many answers would we have found, how many dreams might have become reality, and how much fulfillment we might have seen if we had asked Jesus to follow us? What could our faith had done, with what assurance could we have met our difficulties, and with what dignity could we bear our troubles, if only we had the courage to ask Jesus to follow us?
Yes, it takes courage to follow Jesus, but it takes more courage to ask Him to follow us. The road before us may be long, we may need to travel through the dark, we may be afraid. Then we hear footsteps. We look behind us and see the shadow of Jesus following after us. It is then that we know all will be well for He will be with us whenever and wherever our need is.
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