Friday, September 23, 2011


When I was in 3rd grade, my friends and I played follow-the-leader. We would traipse through the house in a line following whoever was in front and mimicking every movement they did. We march through the kitchen, around tables and even over furniture, much to my mothers’ dismay, and consequently we would march out the door. The half-acre yard I lived on was even greater marching grounds. We marched around the many trees, shrubs, and flowers, around the swing set and lawn chairs, through our garden and my sand box all the time doing whatever the leader did: jump, run, walk like a duck, sing, spin or dance. We never felt lost, but we never knew where we would go next nor what we would be doing.

Nowadays, I am very dependent on following. What I mean is, I have no sense of direction. North is the front end of my car. Seriously! And without a map or good directions I easily get lost. I often drive around until I see a familiar landmark before I can get my bearings and get to my destination. And try as I might, I have never been able to overcome this directional handicap. I now plan my trips, even the ones across town, ahead of time. I think through the route I will take, and the turns I will make, and use a good map or googled directions.

Life is a journey. And we all are ‘following’ someone or something, doing what they do or following their directions. At times I even catch myself following myself! Now that’s a scary thought! But I do! I decide to eat wrong and follow myself to McDonalds. I decide to procrastinate and follow myself to the computer to Facebook instead of cleaning the kitchen. I decide to stay up late reading one more chapter or playing one more game and follow myself into a morning of grouchy coffee-drinking. Or I follow my haphazard, shoddy or uncaring attitude and literally run over friends and family with my opinions, looks, or actions. But even worse, I follow others in conversations of negative talking or gossip. Or worse yet, I LEAD them! Sometime I even follow my feelings, as silly as they are, and let them lead me into anger, resentment or depression.

Life is a journey. And if I am to become the person God made me to be, I must be very careful who or what I follow. One of the ministers at my church gave an illustration of what it was like to follow Jesus. Jason called a ‘volunteer’ from the congregation and asked them to follow him and do everything he did. He walked across the stage, down the steps, and proceeded to traipse around the auditorium (sound familiar?) and all the time the volunteer followed, not distantly, because he never knew which direction Jason would take at any given moment, but he followed as closely as he could so as not to miss a step or a turn. Jason had that person’s full attention but it really was a simple concept. The volunteer had just one job: Follow.

Becoming a disciple of Christ is a lifelong commitment to Following the Leader. I choose every day, every moment, whether to step where He steps, say what He says, act like He acts, or do what He does. It’s not hard to play follow the leader as long as I have my eyes ON the leader and DECIDE to follow. When I decide to follow, He even gives me HIS strength, ability and power to do it! Where it gets hard is looking around and fearing where He is leading: You mean I am going to forgive unfaithfulness? lying? abuse? Follow the Leader. He did it. You mean I have to endure pain and suffering? Follow the Leader. He did it. You mean I have to put up with ridicule and snarky attitudes? Follow the Leader. He did it. You mean I shouldn’t put up with gossip and negative talk? Follow the Leader. He didn’t.

Unlike the aimless game of Follow the Leader I played as a child, following Jesus has purpose. A purpose the world cannot give. I get to follow the Leader through overcoming all of those negatives to ultimately arrive at glorious high places, places of joy and peace, because my Spirit-infused life will grow strong enough to get there. These places are high above the problems of the world, and there I find a perspective that makes the following worth every step. I become strong enough to humbly and patiently forgive even the wrongest wrongs. I followed the Leader. He did that. I become strong enough to have joy in the middle of pain and suffering. I followed the Leader. He did that. I become strong enough to love my enemies. I followed the Leader. He did that. I become strong enough to stand up for justice and do good. I followed the Leader. He did that. I become kind, gentle, self-controlled just like Him, because I followed Him.

By the way, I am still on this journey. But I’m getting to be in those high places occasionally and it is so wonderful and worth it! Oh, and remember I have no sense of direction. I consult the road map constantly to make sure I am following closely. Studying the Word is my life GPS. But following Jesus is my simple job.

Wanna join me in Following the Leader?

Friday, September 02, 2011

I am Healed !!

Yesterday was great…and horrible. I started the day feeling truly wonderful for the first time since my back surgery. I went through my morning praising God for His healing and enjoying driving solo for the first time in 4 1/2 weeks. I didn’t go far. I didn’t ‘over-do’. At least I tried not to, but by afternoon the wonderful morning turned ugly and pain and fatigue overcame me. As I lay in bed wondering why, what the timeline for healing was, God when will I be normal again? I felt the mental and spiritual nudge to let it go. Leave it with God. So I did. But my prayer as I fell asleep that night was for God to heal me, (quickly!) so I could do whatever His will was for my life. I wasn’t getting any younger, after all, and if I were going to be of benefit to Him, I really needed to get on with this healing process.

Well, He answered my prayer this morning from three different readings.

The first is a daily Bible passage I start with just for meditation. Today’s was: Psalm 119:64 “O Lord, your unfailing love fills the earth; teach me your decrees.” Oh as I meditated on His unfailing love filling the earth to fullness, my desire for obedience grew with it! A God who loves His creation has only good in mind for His created. Obeying Him…oh yes! That is what I want to do! Show me your will so that I can follow and obey!

I know…doesn’t sound like much of an answer for healing….but just wait. There’s more.

My second reading started discussing how we can’t live apart from Jesus. “Oh,” my soul thought, “I truly can’t! Draw me closer to you Lord!” Sharon Jaymes’ devotional went on to discuss our confidence in God. I was pleading for that confidence in His will by this point!

Then it happened! His answer to my prayer for healing and doing His will in my life!

Get ready for this!

Sharon paraphrased 2 Corinthians 12:7-10:

I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan's angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn't think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
'My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.'
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now that I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size-abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

Ummm….yeah….I may have put exclamation point at my statement above about my healing and doing His will, but honestly after reading this I was a bit miffed. Ok, God loves me through and through, inside and out, and I am willing to obey. Totally. I can’t live apart from Him and my confidence in Him is deep. Not perfect, but deep. But that whole living in weakness part? That is an answer to healing? And how can I do what God wants me to from flat on my back? Really, Lord? My emotional agreement with the Father took a nosedive.

But I have one more reading every morning, and my answer to healing was very, very clear.

Sarah Young’s devotional, Jesus Calling (I would highly recommend this to everyone!), is my last reading before I get up and going. Today’s short, intimate conversation from Jesus said,

“When you depend on Me continually, your whole perspective changes. You see miracles happening all around, while others see only natural occurrences and “coincidences.” You begin each day with joyful expectation, watching to see what I will do. You accept weakness as a gift from Me, knowing that My Power plugs in most readily to consecrated weakness. You keep your plans tentative, knowing that My plans are far superior. You consciously live, move, and have your being in Me, desiring that I live in you. I in you, and you in Me. This is the intimate adventure I offer you.”*

There it is. No falling on the floor and rising with full healing in my back and no pain. No great fanfare. Just a message from God!!!! Did you get that? The Creator of the universe spoke to ME! I am crying as I write this because I am so humbled that He would answer my prayer so completely and directly! I AM healed! My back still hurts? Yes. Walking is difficult? Yes. But God healed me where I needed healing – my spirit. I am in Christ and He is in me! My weakness becomes the very tool of His will in my life that can defeat satan! My plans are not His plans, but His plans are perfect and I want perfect plans. I have a Divine connection to eternity with this back problem and God will use it to His glory! As obstinate as I am, I cannot and will not call these separate readings “coincidences”. They are the answer to my prayer for healing. It is my choice to accept that answer and give Him praise…or not.

Praise God for my healing!!

*Young, Sarah (2004-10-12). Jesus Calling: Seeking Peace in His Presence (p. 257). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.