Follow Me

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A Blogged Bible Study entry for John 21:

I tell you the solemn truth, when you were young, you tied your clothes around you and went wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will tie you up and bring you where you do not want to go.” (Now Jesus said this to indicate clearly by what kind of death Peter was going to glorify God.) After He said this, Jesus told Peter, “Follow me.” ~John 21:18-19

“Follow Jesus I will follow Jesus.  Anywhere He leads me I will follow. 
Follow Jesus I will follow Jesus.  Anywhere He leads I’ll go.
Across the river, down through the valley, or if it be on a mountain high. 
I’ll go Lord anywhere you want me.  Take me, here am I.”

We sang that song on a teen trip in high school. It wasn’t a large congregation so the youth group didn’t have many kids. But, we were close. We had been practicing for our summer trip to Colorado. The plan was to sing at a couple of churches along the way.

Really, we only had about five singers in the group. The others just stood with us and mouthed the words. But I remember loving that song, singing it with my whole heart, knowing I meant every word. I also knew not everyone in the group felt the same.

I had visions of being a missionary to Africa. I really thought that’s what I’d end up doing. It wasn’t a scary thought to me. I imagined I could do it. I saw myself as quite a force to be reckoned with…then.

As time progressed I realized I wasn’t called to the mission field and began looking into another form of service. Teaching made the most sense to me, especially since I was marrying a preacher and we would probably be living in small towns. Teachers can always find work.

As more time passed small towns gave way to large cities, the pastorate gave way to computers, and my energy gave way to illness. We served as laypeople for many years, using the gifts of teaching the Lord had given us both.

Now we’re older. I don’t know that I would call us old, but we are feeling the aches of our age and the frustrations of not quite reaching the goals we had. We had a plan to “follow Jesus.” Yet, to us the plan looked very different than the reality.

Jesus told Peter some of what he would endure toward the end of his life. Many scholars believe this passage tells of the death he would endure, death by crucifixion. Peter knew it wasn’t going to be an easy road, this path of following Jesus. But He did it just the same. He knew he would have a miserable death. But he didn’t run from it. He understood the mission was to follow Jesus unto death. It wasn’t going to be a mountaintop experience for him. But still, he followed.

Even if life is not what you imagined it would be — this life of following after Jesus — it just might be the life He ordained for you. It just might be “the best life now” that will bring Him the most glory.

Even if it takes you “down through the valleys”…will you go anywhere He wants?  Do you really mean it, or are you just mouthing the words?

Take me. Here am I.

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10 responses »

  1. in answer to your last couple questions..yes, I will go..I don’t think there is a choice in it..stay within the shadow of God, or be miserable…the world has way too many miserable people already 🙂

    seriously, I pray that he will take me kicking and screaming if necessary, but please don’t let me miss one thing you want to do with me. that is not mouthing anything, that is my reality. Love you Princess!

  2. That’s a good place to be, Darla! And I can assure you, He will take you up on that commitment.

    It’s David’s prayer:
    Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts.
    See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

    He will take us up on that prayer and do WHATEVER needs doing to keep us on the everlasting way.

    I know you’re not mouthing. You live it!!! Love you, Princess!!

  3. I will. *tears*

    Wow, this is SO well written. And it made me smile right away, because that’s one part of the chapter that tugged at me … but I didn’t see much to talk on. I love how you’ve taught with it here. I can see Peter’s “come hell or high water” approach … and the challenge for us to follow in that wake. And the ‘dreams vs reality’ question is one I don’t fully know the answer to. As near as I can figure … we’ll see the reality of ALL the dreams in eternity, where as now we can only ‘know in part.’ That and … the greatest adventure takes place in the spirit. Which we are certainly not without. 🙂

  4. another thought…although Peter knew his end, I am thinking that the joy of following Jesus out weighed the end…and even in the end, he knew where he was heading, and Jesus was with him all the way.

    Wasn’t Peter the one that was crucified upside down? over active brain tonight..might be all the sugar and caffiene today…drink coffee…mix cookie dough, drink coffee, mix more cookie dough…

  5. ‘Sorry I haven’t commented in a while. I do still read your posts though =).

    I just read another one on Greg Sponberg’s blog that really builds on your post here. I don’t know if you’re familiar with his blog, but he and his wife, Nicole (formerly of Selah) lost their infant son last spring to SIDS.

    Anyway, I’ll let his words speak much more profoundly than mine:
    http://thelukesponbergfoundation.blogspot.com/

    ‘Appreciated your thoughts equally as well. Thanks for sharing them!

    D-

  6. “And the ‘dreams vs reality’ question is one I don’t fully know the answer to. As near as I can figure … we’ll see the reality of ALL the dreams in eternity, where as now we can only ‘know in part.’ ”

    I’m sure hoping we get answers to the questions, Annie. I suppose we will since we are told we will fully know. Then it will all make sense. It reminds me of this passage at the very end of Hebrews 11:

    But others were tortured, not accepting release, to obtain resurrection to a better life. And others experienced mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, sawed apart, murdered with the sword; they went about in sheepskins and goatskins; they were destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (the world was not worthy of them); they wandered in deserts and mountains and caves and openings in the earth. And these all were commended for their faith, yet they did not receive what was promised. For God had provided something better for us, so that they would be made perfect together with us.

    He has a greater plan that we cannot see yet. But someday we’ll know why it took so long for dreams to come true. Until then I will trust in His sovereignty.

    Yes, Darla. Tradition says he was the one crucified upside down. I think it’s interesting to read 2Peter because it was toward the end of his life. He knew his death was coming soon:

    Indeed, as long as I am in this tabernacle, I consider it right to stir you up by way of a reminder, since I know that my tabernacle will soon be removed, because our Lord Jesus Christ revealed this to me. Indeed, I will also make every effort that, after my departure, you have a testimony of these things

    He’s “stirring them up” to remember all they will need to know about the perilous times, to keep them (us) from stumbling. Still feeding and shepherding the sheep, as Jesus told him to do. It seems he took to heart this last lesson from his Master. Wouldn’t you say?

    Hey, Laz! I’m glad to know you’re still out there. I’ve wondered if all is well with you. I will check out his post. Thank you! Have a Merry Christmas, Laz! 😉

  7. I have discovered that there are times I simply do not have a choice as to where He leads me. There were many, many things I thought be different about my life at this point in my life. Still, none of them have come to pass. It is what it is. But what is that to me now?

    I used to just “mouth the words,” tried to “play along,” acted as though I “had it together”, but there is so often an organic backlash against such hypocrisy. So we lash out against others by arguing the false viture of our own legalism, the false viture of our own interpretation of Scripture, or we take it out on ourselves for not being good enough.

    I am reading “Blue Like Jazz” and the story of the pastor’s suicide attempt seriously hit home. Been there, done that. It didn’t work, though. God had other plans. And I am glad to live with that. But I know one person who tried–and succeeded–based on the same reasons. (That story has yet to be told.)

    Sometimes, grace is the most difficult lesson to learn. It actually reminds me of a movie I had once seen with Matthew Modine. “Gross Anatomy” or something like that. He plays a med student who gets a job as an intern at a hospital. And a doctor asks him, “Dedicated or poor?”

    He smirks and says, “Poor.”

    The expression on his face says, “What’s the big deal?”

    But at the end of the movie, though, the same doctor asks him the same question.

    This time, he answers, “Dedicated…..AND POOR!”

    One who says all the right things without fully understanding what those words mean…is poor. But when we fully understand the grace of God, great, the dedication follows.

    Like I said before, “Grace is its own discipline.”

    (And this is a seriously long comment. 😐 )

  8. You seem to have peace about many things, Nor. That must be a good place to have found.

    Sometimes it takes a while for the words to sink in…the feeling to match up with the mind. I think the struggles of this life either bring us to the place we truly see, or reveal a hidden hypocrisy we didn’t even know existed.

    Grace it its own discipline. Yes, it is.

    You should know by now, Nor, I seriously love long comments!!

  9. Hi Michelle, I love how your posts always get me thinking, here, about what it means to follow Jesus and how this may not look like what we first pictured.

    Will I go anywhere He wants me to? Sometimes I think I have pulled back from that yieldedness compared with what it was like in the beginning. But I know He is not finished with me, and it is my heart’s desire to follow Him without reserve and bring Him as much glory as possible. Love you, Michelle.

  10. Hey, Birgit! I know what you mean about the times of pulling away, not being as yielded. I certainly want control, especially when many things can feel so crazy. It is amazing to me how He continually pulls me back, though. It’s almost as if He is orchestrating events just so I will see more clearly, after a long time in the fog. But I don’t get too full of myself over the clear vision. I now know another time of cloudiness may be on the horizon. It seems to be a pattern. At least I’m getting better about knowing He is down in the valley with me, when those patches come.

    Love you, Birg and asking for God’s blessings to be poured out upon you.
    (Did you get my email?)

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