“You know,” Stan commented one morning, “every time I read the Bible, even though I may have read a particular part many times, it seems there is always something new for me to consider, or something for me to focus on more deeply.”
“You have something particular in mind?” I asked.
“Sure do,” he replied. “I was reading in Matthew’s gospel earlier this morning and what I saw made me focus again on wondering why I didn’t respond like Matthew did.”
“Respond to what?” I asked.
“Jesus,” Stan said. “It’s recorded that when Jesus and Matthew ran into one another, Jesus said one thing to Matthew. He said, ‘Follow Me,’ and Matthew immediately dropped everything he was doing and obeyed by following Jesus. This made me wonder.”
“Me,” was Stan’s one-word answer. “Before I finally came to faith, Jesus had said the same thing to me many times without any positive response from me. Why did it take me so long? Similarly, even now, I often hear Jesus say, ‘Follow Me,’ and I’m reluctant to do that. I wonder why?”
“Any answers to your wondering?” I asked.
“Same answer I see all the time,” Stan replied. “Me. Self. Preferring what I want to do apart from God rather than purposefully choosing to surrender to be who and what He intends.”
“Who and what?” I repeated. “How so?”
“The ‘Who’ part is being a Christian,” Stan said. “The ‘What’ part is being a disciple.”
“For me,” he continued, “there was a time when my self-centered ears were finally unplugged and I truly heard and responded to the ‘Follow Me’ all the way to heaven when it’s time. After that eternal question was settled, there’s the daily ‘Follow Me’ of being a disciple by knowing Him on this side of eternity.”
“But,” I commented, “that doesn’t answer the question of why it took and takes so long for that to happen.”
“You’re right,” Stan replied. “I don’t know why it took and takes me so long, and I can’t answer for anyone else. All I know is that I thank God every day that He keeps asking me to follow Him and that He helps me when I’m willing to step forward to follow Him.”
Bible verses to consider:
And as Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man, called Matthew, sitting in the tax office; and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he rose, and followed Him. Matthew 9:9.
And as He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alpheus sitting in the tax office, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he rose and followed Him. Mark 2:14.
And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” Luke 9:23-24.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your provision of the cross of Christ so I could accept your free and gracious provision and follow you all the way to heaven when my time here is completed. Thank you, too, that I can follow you on this side of eternity. I confess that too often I do not choose to follow you because I choose to follow something or someone else, including myself. Please forgive the foolishness of trying to live the life you have given me without truly following you. And please help me to follow every step of your lead wherever, however, and whenever you want. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of the One you want me to follow. Amen.
Think on this: Have you made the decision to follow Jesus all the way to heaven when your time here is completed? If no, why? What’s in the way of accepting God’s free and gracious gift of life with Him eternally when it’s time? If you are a Christian with the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing with following Jesus on this side of eternity? If you sense changes may be in order in how you follow Him, how are those changes going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?