You Lead. I’ll Follow (Albeit Anxiously and Reluctantly).

“You lead, I’ll follow. Your hands hold my tomorrow. Your grip. Your grace. You know the way. You guide me tenderly. When you lead, I’ll follow. Just light the way and I’ll go. Cause I know what you’ve got for me is more than I can see, so lead me on.”

These lyrics by Jamie Grace have been my phone’s ringtone for the past year. This catchy tune with the rah rah lyrics is uplifting, encouraging, and empowering. Until you have to live them out…

Seriously, think about the last time God asked you to faithfully follow Him and your reaction. I hope it was one of eager excitement to run hard in the direction God moved. I have to admit that this is not how I react. It’s how I want to react, but it’s just not. At all…

What do I do? I tell God I will follow him wherever he leads me. I tell Jesus I’ll pick up my cross and trust him in all things. But then when he shows the way, I kick and scream and protest. Why? Because I’m afraid. Because I’m comfortable. Because it’s not my way.

It’s exactly what the Israelites did. They wanted to believe God would lead them through the desert to the Promised land. But when they got sick of manna and feared the giants that already occupied the land, they grumbled and protested and waivered. They even turned to a man made trinket for answers and turned on each other when God responded in anger. They wanted to obey God’s laws, but when that made them different and unique from the people groups around them, they asked for a king so they could fit in.  And so often people refused to follow Jesus because the pull of their family, their profession, or their possessions were just too strong.

There is an epic battle between the part of my heart that is fully redeemed and longs to chase hard after God and the part of my heart still stuck in the things this world has to offer. And so often we cast the things that keep us from following God in a negative light, but really they are often really good things like career, family, reason and logic. Faith is rarely reasonable. Faith in God requires that we give up the really good things for the unimaginable great things of God. One part of my heart wants to choose faith and follow. The other part wants to choose fear and stay put, where it is safe and predictable. It’s my choice: God’s way or my way.

my way gods way

One will lead to the Promised Land; one will not. One will lead to a life I cannot even fathom; one will not. One will glorify God; one will not. One will grow my faith; one will reinforce my fear.

Thankfully God is patient and purposeful in His pursuit of His people. When fear outweighs faith, He continues to lead and continues to call us to follow. He continues to promise that His way is the better path. Exodus 15:13 say, “In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.” And John 8:12 says, “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

So how do we choose faith instead of fear? How do we follow God’s lead? It starts by desiring to follow where He leads and it takes listening for his voice. In John 10, Jesus tells a parable about sheep following their shepherd. In verses 3-6 he says, “The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”

Do you know Jesus’ voice? He’s calling. He’s leading. You simply have to listen and follow, even if it is anxiously and reluctantly. Just do it obediently.

Expecting Easter, Forgetting Good Friday

Holy Week is upon us and it is definitely one of my favorite times of the year. Honestly, it rivals Christmas for me! But even though it is one of my favorite times, it is also one of my least favorite. Yes I have a love/hate relationship with Holy Week (I write more about that HERE).  I’ve struggled with Holy Week because I eagerly and expectantly look towards Easter, but I long to forget about Good Friday. And don’t even get me started on Saturday! But we can’t have the celebration of Easter Sunday without the crushing blow of the cross. It’s so easy forget about Friday when we know that Sunday is coming.

But the disciples didn’t know what was going to take place on Sunday. Sure, Jesus had told them time and time again that he would raise from the dead, but let’s be honest, the disciples had no clue he was being literal! The disciples could not forget about Friday and look to Sunday. Friday was not yet “good” for the disciples. Friday was frightening. Friday was devastating. The disciples watched their teacher, friend, and Lord hang on a cross. Dying…

“At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sebachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)…With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.”

Pilot released Jesus’ body to Joseph of Arimathea, and he was wrapped in linen and placed in a tomb. Jesus was dead.

In modern terms, he’d been embalmed, placed in a coffin, lowered six feet down, and the dirt had already filled in the remaining hole. See why I want to skip this part? But to skip straight to Easter is to rob the story of its power and to rob me of understanding the cost of my sin and salvation.

So this year I’m committed to walking through Holy Week as the disciples did. Step by step, event by event. Because the truth is that Good Friday’s sorrow, makes Sunday’s celebration that much sweeter. We can’t begin to comprehend the depth of Jesus’ love until we consider the cross. We can’t understand God’s relentless pursuit of relationship with us until we stop to ponder the cost. We can’t truly  rejoice in the resurrection until we take in the tomb.

So this year, take in Holy Week moment by moment. Wait to sing songs of joy and celebration until Sunday and choose into the smaller selection of Good Friday’s songs of repentance and personal reflection. Yes, expect Easter, but don’t forget Friday.