EASTER FOLLOWERS!

22 04 2015

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Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason. One of the things that Easter has taught me is that we don’t always have to be in charge. If we always take matters into our own hands, we will miss out on the surprises that God has in store for those who remain faithfully in tow.

When Jesus was taken into trial to set the stage for his crucifixion and resurrection, only two of the 12 disciples attempted to see what was going on with their Lord by staying with him. Peter didn’t make it very far, for he denied three times when a slave girl confronted him. Only John is mentioned being at the cross. All the rest were already trying to put the pieces of their world back together because they assumed that the Jesus stage had come to a crashing end.

Jesus never called us to go out ahead of the power. While God did commission us to go into the world and preach the gospel, he never commanded us to make up the ways we do it as we go. Jesus said clearly, I am the way and the truth and the life and if you ever want to get to graduation day in good standing, you best depend upon God for the details!

Jesus told all of his followers many times that he was sent to die but on the third day he was going to be risen from the grave. This was no top secret news. He said it in public and he taught it in private. Yet, how many of the disciples followed the leader all the way to the last exciting moment? The correct answer is: None of them! And they missed witnessing what they were invited to see with their own eyes.

If I were to ask you how you are doing with your faith, you might just want to start with your lists of all the things that you might be doing for God. But Christianity is all about following Jesus. You might conclude that you are doing pretty well, but if you are not smack dab right behind the Savior, it is time to change positions!

If we are willing to follow Jesus all the way, then nothing will ever get in the way of us becoming the very people that God always designed us to be. The problem is that we are living in a generation where everybody “does,” but very few listen before they get busy “doing.”

Where is Jesus calling you today? What would you answer if I asked you, “What does the Lord want you to be doing with this one and only precious life?” Just like with his first batch of apostles, we should not be in the dark about how we should behave in the light!

Every invitation to faith begins with God’s bid to come and follow. It does matter who you follow! How many of you are spinning your wheels putting forth lots of effort and energy only to discover that you aren’t getting very far on the pilgrimage?

This reminds me of a story that I will be telling this weekend during our Easter Services. If you are coming, and I do hope you will, you are getting a jump on the rest of those in attendance! It reminds me of this true story that I read this past winter:

A young man was traveling from Washington D.C. to Morgantown, West Virginia. He was leaving the D.C. area as the snow was blizzard-like, coming down in a blinding fashion. He stopped at the local shopping mall just before closing time to pick up a few supplies and then jumped into his car as the mall was closing.

As soon as he turned his key in the ignition, he realized that he had zero visibility through his windshield. So what he did next seemed logical as he got his car right behind a big old snow plow truck thinking that this would help him make some progress! He followed that plow for 45 minutes through each and every turn. He could see nothing but the red taillights in front of him. It was a tough ride but at least he was given a clear path to follow!

Suddenly he jerked to a stop because the snowplow had slammed on its brakes and the driver actually got out of the car and walked back to the young man’s car behind him. “Where are you going?” the plowman asked. “You’ve been following me for almost an hour!”

The young man blurted out, “Morgantown, West Virginia.”

“Well you will never get there by following me,” retorted the plowman. “I am plowing out the Mall Parking Lot!”

Lots of gas and lots of movement but no new ground gained. He had voluntarily put himself behind a man who was taking him absolutely nowhere. As we approach this Easter Season, you may not like where Jesus is taking you, and you may not have a clue why he has asked you to do what he did, but Resurrection Day proves that at least you know you are going somewhere worth arriving.

A follower does not need credentials or recognition. A follower does not need to be the trained lifeguard or the seasoned CEO. A follower only needs to show up and be with his leader, his Lord, and you have the guarantee that he will be with you all the way!

“Where is there?” you may ask. There is actually the spot right behind Jesus.

And Easter proves that life lasts a whole lot longer than the years that we sweat it out here on earth. Jesus doesn’t just take us to the grave. Because he lives, he leads us right through the grave. Eternal life is not about quantity of days but about the quality of discovery we receive as we stay in step with our Savior.

I close with a great story by author Leonard Sweet. Nothing says spring like seeing Mama Duck out and about with her fuzzy little babies falling in line behind her. But these little ones are so devoted to do what the duck in front is doing that they will go anywhere, even right out into dangerous traffic if so led.

We learn from science that it isn’t love that keeps them so obediently in line. Flocking birds such as ducks and those dreaded geese are designed with the sense of “imprint” to stay glued to the first creature they see upon coming out of their shell. If all goes right, the hatchling will stick with Daisy Duck but if it goes wrong, the ducklings have been known to bond with anything and everything from humans to beagles.

What I am trying to say is that you best be sure that you are actually following Jesus and not just the crowd following God. Jesus will take you to go against the flow. Jesus will ask you to do impossible things that can’t be accomplished without him. Jesus will lead you to lay your life down so that it will forever be held by the Father who won’t let you go!

Easter points us to make sure that we know who we are following. For a believer, death is not the end of the line, but the beginning of their launch into paradise. Even though we have never been there yet, we can be sure that Jesus has already conquered that course and as we follow we are safe behind him and we will begin again!


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