Is it just me or do you feel this, too? I feel that one of the greatest challenges we must deal with as followers of Jesus is the need to walk with Jesus each and every day. So often we are challenged to turn aside, sit down, or just, plain quit. Yet, those are not the directions we were given when we first answered his call.
What causes us to want to modify the relationship? Could it be that we get a little bit discouraged when things don’t suddenly change for the better? Could it be that we don’t feel we are making any progress? Could it be that we get tired of following the same routine day after day when we cannot see that it is making any difference? The answer to these, and many more, is probably “Yes.”
I am not aware of anyone who is particularly fond of doing the same thing repeatedly when the results do not appear to change. We all like to feel that we are helping to make a difference. We like to feel that our efforts are helping to improve our, or someone else’s, life. I expect that we also want to know that someone is paying attention to our efforts. A “thank you” every now and then never hurts.
Our time with Jesus, though, can seem to be a lot of effort with little to show for it. People still have hard times, get sick, face adversities, struggle with self-worth, and die long before we feel they should. In many ways, our lives as followers of Jesus do not seem to be much different from those who do not follow him except that, maybe, they have better parties. (Hmm. No, that’s not true.)
So, what is the answer? What should we do? I am always touched by the story of Peter’s redemption after he had denied knowing Jesus three times. There by the sea following Jesus’ resurrection, Peter is reminded that the call to discipleship is fairly simple. First, feed Jesus’ lambs. We are to feed the newborns in the faith so that they learn the love of God and to love God. Second, we are to tend and feed Jesus’ sheep. Watching over one another, binding up wounds, ensuring good nutrition, and deflecting the attacks of “wolves” is essential for maintaining the flock.
Last of all, Jesus told Peter, “Follow me.” This can be the most difficult part when we do not know what lies ahead. When life presents us with tough times or calls for tough choices, though, we can know that we need not worry for the one who has called us will always be there to carry us through.
Eugene Peterson wrote a book exploring the gift of the Psalms for our lives. The title, “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction”, says it all. I invite you to look for a copy if you would like to explore the life of discipleship further. In the meantime, remember that all journeys are best shared with a friend. Find a sister or brother in Christ with whom you can safely journey, and may you know peace.
Pastor Braxton ><>