Wednesday, May 27, 2015
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Sometimes I think my schedule looks like an episode of Mission Impossible. Some years ago, I was speaking for the Billy Graham Crusade Committee for two pre-crusade leadership rallies. They were in two completely different locations on the same Saturday morning. One was in the heart of Philadelphia and one was in an outlying suburb. They were scheduled back-to-back, and we had to make a very flying trip when I finished speaking in the city to get to the suburbs.
My wife was driving our car, and we were going to leave in that car. So she certainly needed to drive with us, because we had to leave right from that second meeting. I was in the car with the chairman, who happened to be a very respected judge in the area and my wife was following him in terrain that was very unfamiliar to her.
The minute we pulled away from that first location, it was a great adventure for my wife, I'll tell you. She said this chairman was an excellent driver; an excellent leader. But it was just heavy traffic, and the schedule called for some exciting maneuvers to make it in time. My driver was skillful at weaving this time-saving traffic pattern; back and forth through busy traffic. Oh, by the way, we made it safe, we made it on time, and my wife was right behind us.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Art of Following."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Luke 2, beginning at verse 43. I've read this story many times, but I saw something new and almost amusing this time. Here's the story; it's when Jesus was a twelve-year-old boy. "After the Feast was over (where they had gone with twelve-year-old Jesus), while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for Him. After three days they found Him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions."
You know what I thought about this? How easy it is to lose track of Jesus if you're not keeping your eyes on Him. I mean, this started early. Later it says He was obedient to his parents. But early on, Jesus demonstrates something that would come out more and more in His life. He is full of surprises!
Like my driver friend in Philadelphia, you've got to keep your eyes on the one you're following, because you never know where he's going to move next. So, here's a fundamental skill of being a Christian. What was Jesus' baseline invitation and command? Two words: "Follow Me."
Luke 9:23, "If anyone will come after Me, let him take up his cross daily and follow Me." But, see, Jesus is a dynamic leader. He knows the road. You don't. And He speeds up sometimes and slows down other times. He goes on one road for a while, then He takes another one. He's not inconsistent. He's not undecided. He's traveling a very sure and certain route that He's planned for you. But it's a route you were made for and only He knows.
It's like my wife following her leader through traffic. You have to keep your eyes on him at all times. John 12:26 says, "Whoever serves Me must follow Me, and where I am my servant also will be." The servant's whole job is to be where his Master is; doing what his Master wants done. So we need to be constantly asking Jesus, "Where are you heading, Jesus? I want to be there right behind you. Where are you heading in my life? Where are you headed with my spouse? Where are you headed with this child? With this business? With this ministry? Where are you going with my future? Where are you headed in this relationship?"
We get from this that there are really two great qualities of a great servant or a great follower. The first is attentiveness; constantly checking to see where your dynamic leader is going, knowing He's the God of surprises. Second is flexibility. If I'm stubbornly tied to where I want to go or to my wonderful plan, or something I won't let go of, chances are I will wake up and find I'm wandering around somewhere because I didn't go where my leader did.
Following Jesus is not a one-time commitment or a static process. You move when He moves. You go where He's going. You keep your eyes on Jesus. His eyes are on you constantly. If you follow faithfully, you're going to get to this wonderful destination that you would have never found on your own.