There comes a time when we all choose. I’m not talking about the choice of what we will wear today or what we will have for dinner – or even what we want to be when we grow up, (some of us are not fortunate enough to have discovered that yet). These choices are quite inconsequential when compared with the choice I am talking about. In fact, the choice I’m referring to has the power to shape each and every other choice we will ever make. This choice provides the backdrop or framework that determines the ‘why’ of every other option we come to – it is the reason you do one thing or another; say this or that; go there or stay here. The implications of this choice have the potential to not only change your life but the lives of countless others whom you come in contact with each and every day.
The choice is in the form of a simple question: “Will I follow Jesus today?”
I was raised in the Lutheran church which gave me a very solid understanding that there was one who was bigger, greater, and more powerful than I was. It gave me the foundational belief system of a loving God who sacrificed his only son for my sins through the cross and his resurrection. This traditional upbringing taught me that there was a leader and we were followers and it cannot be the other way around. When I was thirteen I accepted Jesus as my savior in a very simple prayer in a very simple place that to my spirit was an experience that I will never forget, but for many years I tried to hide because it did not fit within the orthodoxy of my traditional heritage. I did not make the experience my own till I was twenty. That was when I chose to be a follower.
For the first few years after that I had all the symbols of a follower: the worn out written in Bible, the t-shirts, the bumper stickers and music. Some of them rang true and some were merely a façade worn by someone who desperately wanted to be accepted by other followers. It took me a while to figure out that most of them were in the same boat seeking approval from those around them. Finally understanding that God looks at the heart while others can only see what is on the outside was when those appearances began to mean less and fall away. It took a little longer to realize that the choice to follow was not a one-time event when I was twenty years old, but a daily decision to keep following, especially when there is no longer a facade to hide behind. Following is a moment-by-moment succession of choices to be like Jesus and let him be seen through my heart. I have not always been successful at this.
A few years back there was a common phrase, WWJD or, “What Would Jesus Do?” (Yes, I had the bracelet, t-shirt, and bumper sticker), and while it describes what I’m writing about here, it really doesn’t go far enough. It is not enough to ask that question and then find the answer; you must then choose to act on it. This is what following is – finding out the next step and then lifting your foot and taking it. Followers don’t need the whole plan, just the next step and a heart of trust toward the leader who has already been there.