Monday, February 1, 2016

Follow Me

I am convinced that "Follow Me" is one of the deepest, most meaningful songs put to paper in dealing with how a Christian relates to Christ. If you stop to consider the lyrics as written, it strips away every worry, every bit of pride, and every overreaction in relation to the beauty of what Christ has done for us. I would like to take this song verse by verse and consider what we can learn from it.

Verse 1:
"I traveled down a lonely road, and no one seemed to care. The burden on my weary back had bowed me to despair. I oft complained to Jesus how folks were treating me, and then I heard Him say so tenderly, "My feet were also weary, upon the Calv'ry road. The cross became so heavy, I fell beneath the load. Be faithful weary pilgrim, the morning I can see. Just lift your cross and follow close to Me."

There are times when, even surrounded by our brothers and sisters in Christ, we can feel like a lone ship being tossed about in the sea of life. There may or may not be a reason for it, but everyone has been there at some point. It is easy to come to Jesus worried and fearful that this will always be the case, but when we look to Jesus we see something different.

In Jesus we find a Savior who has already conquered. And not only who has already conquered, but who was at one point completely alone, with no one to rely on. He endured the beatings and torture with no one there to take it away, He carried the cross until there was no strength left, and another man was forced to help him. He was staked to the cross, and hung, during which He was truly alone in a way you and I never have to be.

As Jesus hung on the cross, the entire weight of the law and all its curses came crashing down on Him. In that moment, He was completely and utterly separated from all that He had known, even God Himself. He had to carry the weight of all sin, of all curses, upon Himself. Alone. But in doing so He conquered sin and its consequence of death and made a path to the Father for those that follow Him. So when the song says "the morning I can see," we know that it is more than just the next time the sun comes up. It is the morning of no more pain, no more sorrow, no more fear and no more loneliness. It is the morning of God, filled by His presence and overflowing with His love. It is the morning of wholeness in everything.

Verse 2:
"I work so hard for Jesus," I often boast and say. "I've sacrificed a lot of things to walk the narrow way. I gave up fame and fortune! I'm worth a lot to Thee." And then I hear Him gently say to me, "I left the throne of glory, and counted it but loss. My hands were nailed in anger upon a cruel cross. But now we'll make the journey with your hand safe in mine. So lift your cross and follow close to Me."

Now I have never heard anyone literally say these things about themselves, but I have seen it played out in people's attitudes about their faith (including my own at times). It is so easy for people to look at what they do and what they've done and become very impressed in how "good" they are. But the truth is, it all comes from pride. There is nothing we can give of our own that can amount to anything before God. Isaiah says in 64:6, "But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." We have nothing to be prideful of before God. We can be joyous in what He has done, and we can take pride in the fact that Christ has made us perfect and perfects our gifts and worship, but in ourselves we simply have nothing to take pride in.

Jesus, on the other hand, gave up the glories of Heaven itself. Surrounded by worship and praise and light, in the presence of perfection, He chose to come one of us in this world. He chose to come here, with sickness and death and war and suffering in order to make a way for us to come to God. And He invites us to take His hand, lift our cross, and journey with Him there.

Verse 3:
[I said] "Oh Jesus if I die upon a foreign field someday, 'twould be no more than love demands, no less could I repay. "No greater love hath mortal man than for a friend to die.'" [But then] these are the words He gently spoke to me: "If just a cup of water I place within your hand, then just a cup of water is all that I demand." [So I said] "But if by death to living they can they glory see, I'll take my cross and follow close to Thee."

This is the verse that make the entire song for me. Having realized and understood how much Jesus has done for us, we can feel bad sometimes that we cannot or are not doing more. Unreasonable guilt or zeal (depending on the person) can take over, saying that we have to do more! We have to be great! We have to make sure that we go so far that we die for Him! Because really, what less could we do?

The problem with that train of thought is that Jesus calls us where we are. We are not called to compare ourselves to each other. We are not called to feel guilty because we cannot do as much as another person, nor are we called to feel better than someone else because we can do more.

We are simply called to give what we can from where we are.

Some people have been given amazing gifts and numerous opportunities to turn the world upside down for Christ, and that is wonderful! Others have nothing more than a cup of water to quietly give to someone in need. We need to understand that too, is wonderful! Remember the poor widow who had only two small copper coins to give. To those with vast sums it was nothing, but to Jesus watching her it was everything. Understand that it is is a blessing to be a cup of water person. Because of your "meager" gift and position there are people you will see and people you can help that no one else can, so don't be afraid to use your cup of water. The person dying of thirst in the desert does not care about speeches and programs and vast sums of wealth. They just want the water, and you are the blessing they need to see Jesus living today.

So no matter where you are, no matter who you are, know that Jesus loves you. He cares for you, and He sees the morning coming even in your darkness. You have no need of pride, but a simple joy in the fact that Jesus makes you perfect. Finally, if all you have is a cup of water, do not despair. Jesus gave you that cup so that you can accomplish exactly what He wants you to accomplish for His name. All it takes it to take up your cross and follow Him.

So let's take it up together.

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