Go where?

“Go to the land I will show you.”  “Follow me.”  Nothing more.  These are God’s invitation to Abraham (Gen 12) and the disciples (Matt 4).  Not much to go on is there?  How can I put together a pro/con list with that?  “But what about _______?”  “How about _______?”  The list could go on.  Shouldn’t God give me a little more direction to help me make an informed decision about following Him?

I fly on rare occasion.  I’ve never stopped and asked the pilot how the plane works.  I’ve never asked to get out & go look at the engines or to look around the cockpit to make sure everything is in working condition.  After all, what would I be able to determine?  I’ve never flown a plane other than on the computer when I was a kid.  So, why is it any different when God invites us to follow Him?  Why do we stop and question Him, as if He isn’t capable of doing what He’s promised to do?  The reality is that I/we often balk at God’s leading because it makes us uncomfortable, because it takes us somewhere other than where we want to go.

Christ sent out His followers with nothing except the clothes on their back (Matt 10).  He had promised them earlier that their needs would be provided for.  After all, doesn’t God feed the birds that neither reap nor sow?

So maybe the issue isn’t a faith issue as much as it is an issue of control.  For once we’re willing to give up control, the life of faith becomes much more likely.  And thankfully, Abraham, the disciples and many others have simply said “yes” when Christ called them to follow.  After all He is God.

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Jesus who?

When you were a kid, did you get to see flannel board Jesus?  Or maybe you’ve seen Jesus and His disciples piously captured in stained glass?  For many of us, these were our first impressions of who Jesus is, a nice guy, who healed people, taught good things and wanted us to love our neighbor.   But in reality, there is so much more to this man who proclaimed Himself to be God.

Today, Christ is portrayed as a good teacher, someone who wants to help us be better people and who taught us to love other people.  Yet, when I read what He said about Himself, about people, and about what He requires of His followers, I am reminded that He is so much more than a “nice guy”.  After all, a nice, passive guy wouldn’t so infuriate the religious leaders that he would end up suffering the same punishment as the worst criminals.

I’ve been reading some of Josh McDowell’s writings and I’m seeing things for the first time all over again.  I’m being reminded that following Christ isn’t about making my life “better”.  Jesus is not a spiritual version of Tony Robbins.  Rather, He calls me to a life that isn’t about what I want but about what He wants.  As a whole, I think we’ve lost sight of the idea of God’s kingdom.  God’s form of government is a monarchy, not a democracy.  He has called us to a life of  “followership”.  So the question for me/us is this: do I really believe what He says about Himself?  and if I do, am I following Him?  Do I trust Him?  Do I obey Him?

Over the past year, I’ve been moved out of my comfort zone.  God has brought me to a place of truly needing to trust Him for a variety of things.  Things that have been a source of security have been removed.  And so I’ve been brought to a place of either trusting God (for real, practical things, not just in an esoteric, out there, religous kind of way).  And I struggle, because following means I’m not in control.  Following means that I may not know how things will be taken care of.  It means trusting & depending on God to do what He said He would do.  For either He is God, and therefore He will do what He said, or He isn’t, and I am a fool for following and believing.

Thankfully, God has always shown Himself faithful to His promises.   I do struggle between faith and doubt, often sliding from one edge to the other on any given day, but I’m holding on, for as Peter said in John 6:68-69 , “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God. ”

I share all of this, not because I’m standing on the other side, fully accomplished in the following and trusting, but because I’m living in the middle of life, trying to better know who Christ is, trying to really understand what it means to follow in faith.  Thankfully Christ steps off of the Sunday school flannel boards and the stained glass windows and into the mess of real life.  I pray that you’ll find some encouragement in these rambles.

On a different note (pun intended)…I’ve been listening to “Your Love is Strong” by Jon Foreman (lead singer for Switchfoot).  It’s a great song that’s been challenging me (it’s based on Matthew 6).  You may want to check it out.