“Follow” has been a theme God has spoken to us at YWAM Newcastle in 2013. Below is a blog from Ashley, one of our Creative Communications staff, sharing her thoughts on what it means to follow…
One of the things I most cherish about childhood is the carefree nature of it. When we’re young, questions never relent, love comes recklessly without limits, and songs are shouted with full conviction. I remember one particular song that came with this territory.
“We’re following the leader, the leader, the leader; we’re following the leader, wherever he may go.”
Innocently intentioned, we didn’t quite realise what was started in this lovely little jingle. But all too soon we’d come to the reality of adulthood and ironically follow society’s rebellion against such nonsense.
The world likes to tell you that being a “follower” is not a desired description for yourself. Be a leader not a follower are words easily found web-wide and in the subconscious (or forefront) mind of you and your neighbour. And let’s face it; the temporal title is not without its flaws. When we allow the limited perspectives of man to influence our decisions without consulting the Creator of the Universe, we may be lead to canyons of the deepest and darkest variety.
On the other hand, some of us choose to go it alone. We are independent, strong, leaders of our own generations. We don’t need anyone’s help. We start the trends for others to follow. Our ambitions are high, and our grace giving (to ourselves, especially) for imperfections is low. So what happens when our insistent independence leads us trailblazing alone in the wilderness, and there are no shoulders to stand on? This isolation is not a part of God’s design. We invited it in when for some reason it was decided that it is better to be first and alone than last and together.
But here is the great reversal, as Jesus puts it:
“I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers […] and everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.” (Matthew 19:28-30)
So I’m here to tell you that I am a follower.
I am a sheep, and I follow my Shepherd where he wants me to go. Sometimes I question my Shepherd, and sometimes I question my brother and sister sheep, because I don’t always understand. But the character of my Shepherd reminds me that his way for me (and the rest of his flock) always has the best destination, even when I think I see rocks or cliffs up ahead.
Sometimes I want to take the paved road, because, I tell him, look how smooth and nice and easy for me it is!
But, he says, I want you to come this way, with me. I will help you through the rocks, I will go before you, carry you when you need, and bring you to a much higher, even more beautiful place that this narrow path has in store for you.
They say life is about the journey and not the destination. In only partial agreement, I believe both are of equal importance. The journey is the part that grows and challenges us so that we can appreciate the most valuable destination. If we don’t experience the difficulties, how can we appreciate the fullness of God’s perfect character? And how can we get to that intimacy without the right directions (or director) to guide each step?
If you ever wonder what it really looks like to follow Jesus wholeheartedly, the answer rests in his own words: “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it” (Matthew 10:39).
All of us follow someone. Whether it is your culture, family, friends, or yourself, the nature of humanity is to do so. So the question is not if you are a follower or not.
The question is whom do you follow? And what grip needs loosening in your life?