Follow the Leader

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Do you remember the game “Follow the Leader?” My kids and I played it a couple of years ago when we got lost and I had to find a way to keep them all entertained for 45 minutes while we walked in circles! We all got into a single file line (partly because there were about 15 of us and we would have created a traffic jam on the sidewalks if we walked any other way!), and whatever the leader did, we all had to imitate. It got pretty interesting, but it also got us to our destination…eventually, and without anyone falling into despair.

Of course, I haven’t always had that kind of success in seeking to follow a leader. Once, while following my sister through her town (which is three and a half hours from my town), I answered a phone call from her. I thought maybe she had changed the plans and we were going to reroute, but it turns out I had apparently done that all on my own! She asked me where I was and I answered her – with total dismay – that I was still right behind her. I was looking at her car.  Except from her rear window, she wasn’t looking at mine!

After a few clarifying questions from both sides, we figured out that she had made a left turn about 20 minutes earlier, which I didn’t see, and so did not follow. But another car, which happened to be the same make, model and color as hers, was in front of her, and so I landed right behind that car and just assumed I was still following my sister. That detour has supplied our family with many good laughs over the years! Because geographical mishaps are common for me, I’ve had to learn to find the humor in them.

Getting lost spiritually, however, is another story entirely.

Yesterday I heard a message about following Jesus, and how we can sometimes get a little lost in our following. Sometimes we can just be going along, thinking we’re on the right path, until something gets our attention and we realize that we’ve somehow wandered off of the path without even remembering how it happened.

Before we know it, we’ve been all over the map, and the worst part is that we look like it! If we are truthful here, we can all say we know someone who just looks like she’s been through it….maybe more than once! Maybe you are that person. I’ve been her. And I remember the times (sadly, there have been many) when I found myself lost in a place I never intended to go. I remember waking up to the reality that I was lost, again, and didn’t know how to find my way back to what really mattered in this life.

In all honesty, it’s not that uncommon for us to get spiritually off track. There is only one Jesus, and the path to life is narrow, not wide. By contrast, there are many deceiving routes that claim to offer peace and fulfillment – wide paths that seem to offer all the space for exploration we could want. But the end of all those ways is death, the Bible says. We don’t always want to believe it, because – in our own estimation – we are still alive, even after all those detours.

But spiritual life is not the same as physical life. Breathing doesn’t mean living. Eventually, these earthly bodies we have will fail, and be laid in their resting places, never to rise again (the reality is that we never know when our time will be up). At that moment, which comes for each of us, what matters more than anything else in the whole of our lives will happen: our soul will depart, either to eternal life with Jesus, or to eternal torment without Him.

Getting lost spiritually is a matter of life or death, on an eternal level.

I had a dream once that I was a fish, and I was swimming with a school of other fish. We were all going the same direction, all doing the same thing (the normal thing), until a voice spoke to me and asked me what I was doing. “Swimming,” I replied (duh…). “They’re all going to the same place,” the voice said. And suddenly, my eyes were opened to see that that wasn’t the destination I was supposed to be going toward, so I turned around and started swimming in the opposite direction. It was the easy and “natural” thing to do to follow the crowd, but it wasn’t going to take me down the right path. And just like that, God found me in my lost-ness, and He redirected me into the path of life.

When Jesus called His disciples, He did so with an invitation: “Follow Me.” They didn’t have the privilege we have today. We have the written Word of God, which tells us a lot about where He is leading us to. They had no idea where following Him would lead them, and still they went, because they knew that He was worth following. It cost them everything they knew, but they recognized that He had the one thing they did not: true life, eternal life.

The Good News is that Jesus is still calling people to follow Him today. Into life. Into promise. Into peace. Into freedom. Into the restoration of every broken thing.

But just like that little fish in my dream, sometimes we can get so busy just doing what we think we should be doing, just following the people in front of us and around us, that we lose sight of what we are actually supposed to be doing – and of where we should be headed. We get to going around in circles, where nothing changes and we live in repeating cycles of pain, anguish, frustration, and disappointment. And we wonder, “Where is Jesus? Why isn’t He doing anything to change this?”

The truth is that He is changing it, only not in the places where we tend to wander off. He is still on the path that leads to life. He hasn’t gone anywhere. It’s we who have lost our way. We have wandered off and begun to follow the wrong leader – be it our own heart’s desires, or a crowd we have found comfort and familiarity with.

It’s true that not all who wander are lost. There are definitely seasons in the path of life, in following Jesus, where we wander as we wait for Him to lead us out of one place and into another. The important thing is to make certain that, even in our wandering seasons, we are anchored in His love and presence, that we remain in the path that leads to life and do not get led off into another path that looks or feels more promising.

Dear Woman of Breakthrough, today I call you to examine the path you’re walking on. Ask God if you are truly on the path that leads to life, or if you’ve gotten off track somewhere. The beauty of His grace is that, much like my sister called looking for me that day, Jesus is always and ever calling us back to Himself and to the right path. He desires to lead us into all the goodness of God, and we can trust His GPS.

If you’re prone to wandering and can get lost even with a GPS (sadly, this is my story), take heart! Jesus has not let you stray so far that you can’t be brought back. He is faithful to pursue us time and time again, and all it will take is a Word from His mouth to awaken your heart and open your eyes. Pause for a few minutes today and look at the map of your life with Him, and if you need to jump tracks, now is the time!

Remember, this is the hour of our rising. There is no time to waste in wandering the paths you were not destined for. Together, let’s aim for Heaven’s best as we follow Jesus into all He has promised. Follow me as I follow Christ, and let’s show the world there is so much more than they’ve ever dreamed possible with God as their guide!

{Photo images courtesy of http://www.pixabay.com}

 


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