To the fishermen, He said “Follow Me.”
To a pair of brothers in their father’s boat, to their friends, to a man amazed that Jesus knew that he’d been sitting beneath a fig tree…He said “Follow”.
To a little girl in a Sunday School class, He said “Follow Me.” She asked Him to forgive her sins and began to walk with Him, and though she has stepped away from His path every now and then, she has grown up always knowing His faithfulness. And still, even now, His call is “Follow.”
And so I ponder these words and I wonder what He means. Because when I follow someone, I’m usually just traveling behind them, trying to go where they’re going.
But I know that He meant more with this invitation.
I think back to the Sunday School days and a game jumps into my memory — Follow the Leader.
We used to the follow the leader and it meant that we would do everything that they did. If they scratched their nose, if they quacked like a duck, if they jumped up and down on one foot and spun in circles…so did we.
Which is exactly it. Follow Him, wherever He goes. Do as He does. Love as He loves. Give as He gives. Follow the leader and be like Him.
How am I following Him, on this day out of the year when we wait to celebrate His resurrection morning?
The disciples had to decide. On Saturday, between death and life, did they still believe in His promises? Did they hope in His words? Did they hold onto His assurance that He would not be held by death?
What about you and I? We have died to ourselves and live in Him…but we, too, wait for His promises to be fulfilled. We, too, wait for His return. We don’t follow Him physically by the Sea of Galilee or through the crowds seeking healing…it is in faith we walk after Him, with the Holy Spirit, by the Word of God.
And as I look forward to the jubilation of Easter morning…and, even more, to the day our faith becomes sight…it is the normalcy of Saturday chores that I am walking through. But even (maybe especially) in the mundane…in the usual…in the day to day stride, we must follow Him. It in our individual calls to mother and fatherhood, to being a good neighbor, to our work of teaching or welding or selling or whatever it is we do….in the path He lays before us, we must remember Who we are following and watch Him closely, so that we may make our every move as He would move. And to do this, I have to study Him…to remember His words…to remember what He gave so that I could be so richly blessed.
So I restore order to my home, knowing that His sacrifice restores wholeness to hearts wrecked by sin’s chaos…
I sweep and throw a dustpan full of crumbs, dirt, and abandoned candy wrappers into the garbage can. I bundle up all of the trash and take it into the big green can outside…and I ask Him to remove the bad stuff from my heart…to sweep up the impatience and the crankiness, the fear and the bad attitudes and to toss them away…and I pray for strength so that I won’t go out back, pick through the pile, and bring all of that dirt back in. It would be crazy for me to bring our trash back into the clean house, so why do I sometimes bring back the filth He’s already removed?
I pick up toys and discarded shoes, stack dishes in cabinets, and re-make beds…all chores that will need to be done again tomorrow. And I am grateful that, even when I do mess up and track dirt back in, He never tires of renewing my heart…His mercy is fresh every day.
It’s lunchtime, so I warm up meatballs for a meatball sub for Sean, chicken nuggets for the picky younger two, and leftover pasta for my own meal. We eat and I recall that the Bread of Life was broken for us…broken and wounded so that I could sit with my children and know that we have Hope in every circumstance that might come our way. Because of the stripes laid upon His back, I can pray over my little ones and claim His healing when their bodies are in need…and I am grateful.
With each glass of apple juice I pour, I remember the Living Water. He asks us to drink of Him and to find that we will never thirst again. And I know that this is true — because I have learned that He sustains me no matter what else happens. I have tried to still the ache in my heart with other things and people — but He alone fulfills me.
The afternoon is dim, so I light a few candles and plug in tiny white Christmas lights…and I remember that the Light of the World came into my darkness…I think of grace in hardship…of miracles and changed lives…there is never darkness that He cannot dispell…and for this, I am grateful.
I toss load after load of laundry into the washing machine, clothes spotted with sand and sweat, and I think of His blood that washes us perfectly clean. With this in mind, I lay out the kids’ new Easter clothes and I think of my dirty rags of self-made attempts at goodness…but no matter who we’ve been or what wardrobe we chose for ourselves in sin, He clothes us with His own robe of righteousness…and I am grateful.
Kailey wanders into my bedroom where I am folding clothes, and she is beautiful in her Dora nightgown and matching headband that she’s wearing across her forehead, her mouth rimmed with a milk ‘mustache’, and hands sticky with some unknown substance. She asks me to hold her and, happily, I do. There is nothing I’d rather do than hold my daughter or sons in my arms…and I remember that, as we follow Him, He holds us. And, oh, I am so grateful for the marvelous mystery of His boundless love.
“Follow Me,” He says, and He gives us everything we need to take step after step along the Way.
Forgiven, restored, renewed, beloved…I pray that we follow our Leader.