“And Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me,’ and he left everything behind, and got up and began to follow Him.”
In my last post I wrote about the day I made the choice to leave the burden of my sin at the foot of the cross and follow Jesus with everything. But there is always an after to the “happily ever after.” And I want to honestly share what comes after that decision to follow Christ:
For me, it initially seemed too easy. Once I had a taste of God’s love and once I started reading the bible and understanding more of who God was, I was ALL IN. It was over! I wanted to chase God and I didn’t care about anything else. There wasn’t a thing in the world that I wasn’t willing to let go of, because I had experienced the true freedom only found in Christ. And I hit the ground running, NO LOOKING BACK for me. As far as I was concerned, there was nothing left for me in my past, so why look back? So, after that choice I remember reading my bible as much as I could (to this day I never go anywhere without it in my purse), because I genuinely wanted to soak up as much as God as I could! I also remember letting go of a lot of friendships (and you find that most of them don’t really mind), I cooled off on listening to the music I was used to, skipped out on the parties and I even decided to transfer from the university I was currently enrolled in to attend a christian university. And you may be thinking that this sounds a little too extreme and you would be correct. It was extreme. And though it was difficult and even lonely at times I understood that: 1. God was with me, 2. this season would not last forever and 3. it would be worth it.
I look back at that season of my life as a “detox” or “time of pruning.” God was pruning the things out of my life that would only hinder me from following Him WITH EVERYTHING. And I know we want to believe that once we accept Jesu that our life will be nothing but crowns of flowers & grace, but it’s just not true. And the whole purpose of my blog is to be so transparent and share with you all that I’ve had to learn the hard way in order to keep you from being misled. The common misconception that you will never go through another painful season now that you have accepted the Lord, has left a lot of Christians broken and angry. Remember, our humanity has not left us just because we choose to walk with Jesus. The difference is that we just know that the pain from pruning and letting go is worth following Jesus. And it is simply His remarkable love for us that gives us enough power and strength to leave it all behind & follow Him, no turning back. And once we do seek out His love fully, He grants us clarity, fulfillment, a new mind, community and new life. Let me explain why…
WHY do people follow Jesus?
I love the way Luke 5 reveals how deeply Jesus impacted people wherever He went. Jesus left people floored! Astonished! Amazed. They were unable to grasp the miracles that He performed and they couldn’t get enough of the truth He had to share. Multitudes of people would surround Him just to hear the Word of God. He was, for a time, like a celebrity. People would go to great lengths to hear Him. Why did they do this? Well when Jesus spoke, He spoke with authority and truth out of a deep love for all. And the Word of God is able to tear through the most calloused heart and reach the deepest and most hidden parts. When He spoke, He offered people new life. Have you ever noticed that when going through a difficult time, there is a significant difference when you have someone who seeks the Lord telling you that there is a future hope for you, rather than someone who doesn’t know the Lord telling you that “everything will be ok.” For some reason one of these conversations lacks true comfort, but can be viewed as a compilation of simple, empty words because deep down we know truth carries weight. When there is truth, their is power and there is freedom. I followed Jesus simply because I experienced the truth of His love.
WHO does Jesus call to follow Him?
Going back to Luke 5, not only did people flock to Him, but He kept calling the most inadequate people to follow Him! He didn’t want the A Team. He didn’t choose the super Christians that were too Holy to follow Him. He wanted those who were in need, teachable, willing and ready to follow Him. He called the publicly hated tax-collector. During the time of Jesus’ life, tax collectors were hated because they were known to rip people off and steal their money. They were sinners. And what happened when Jesus told Levi, the tax collector, to follow Him? He left everything behind and followed Him! Do you think the Levi felt good about his lifestyle, or worthy to follow Jesus, or adequate enough to follow Him? Nope. But one thing Levi knew was how priceless this opportunity was! JESUS Himself was asking HIM (of all people) to follow Him?! I can only imagine Levi jumping out of his seat and tripping over His own feet to leave everything behind! Jesus was offering Him an opportunity He simply could not refuse. He was offering Him new life.
WHAT is “leaving it all behind?”
So, we have people desperate to hear Jesus speak and we have people willing to drop everything and everyone in their lives IMMEDIATELY after Jesus calls them to follow Him. When He asks you and me to follow Him, it is because He KNOWS that He is offering you something so precious & priceless that it is worth leaving everything else behind that is hindering you from following Him.
Following Jesus is choosing to accept His love & walk in grace each day in order to experience more of Him and satisfying fulfillment. And maybe “leaving it all behind” doesn’t look like packing up and moving to Africa to be a missionary, maybe it just means leaving the substances behind because it hinders you from where Jesus wants you! Maybe it’s letting go of some toxic friendships, or changing up your weekly schedule to make time for Him. Whatever that call to follow Him looks like for you, just understand that it is not a call to live a boring or miserable life. Following Jesus does not mean letting go of the good things in your life, it means experiencing the freedom to let go of the things that are spiritually killing you. The thing we think we desire so much could actually be the thing we need the most freedom from! And I know that can be terrifying purely for the reason of knowing that you will experience change in your life, because change can be scary. But, over and over God tells us “do not be afraid!” Because He is FOR us. He doesn’t wish ill on you, in fact everything He does is out of love. He wants you free from the fear so you are able to fully experience the benefits of accepting His love: a life of newness, purpose & freedom. And when we follow Jesus, we experience this freedom gifted to us by grace through faith.
[ CHALLENGE ]
My challenge for you is to read, meditate & apply Philippians 3:13. Go ahead & download the free Bible app (called You Version) if you don’t already have a bible to look up this verse. And as you respond to the call of God to accept His free gift of love and grace, and as He reveals what to leave behind, I pray that you reply on HIS strength so you are able to leave the past things in the past and press on to a future of freedom in Christ Jesus without looking back!