Driving in Washington, DC is a testing experience on many levels when you know where you are going, but it is a harrowing nightmare if you are lost. Back in 2003, (back before every 4 year old had a GPS) I was using the then cutting edge technology of printouts from Mapquest to find my way to a hotel in a part of town I rarely visited. Though I was born in DC, I had become a Maryland guy. I had no use for DC or Virginia. So when I had to travel into enemy territory, it was never an enjoyable experience. On this occasion, I was chauffering my wife to a banquet where she was to receive an award.
Following the printed directions I came to a listed intersection that was no longer an intersection. A building now occupied what used to be a street. In DC, when you try to go in another direction, the whole city changes and you find yourself in some country like Mongolia. I was LOST. Miracle of miracles, I found a parking space and sat trying to plan the next move when I saw a man come out of a building and get in a car near me. I called out to him and asked if he knew how to get to the hotel. He stopped and gave me a puzzled look: “I’m headed there now; follow me, its a bit tricky. I knew this was divine intervntion. C’mon! how often does this happen? Well I followed him and got there with no problem! Well, not exactly. I followed him and as we went I looked ahead and saw the street I was looking for–so I thought. I turned on my signal and prepared to turn as I saw the car I followed sail on past the street where I turned. As we parted ways, our cars were in a position where I saw the driver’s face and gestures: What are you doing, idiot???? Although the street had the right name, it did not connect to the part of the street where the hotel was. I don’t even remember how we finally got there, but we were late.
Simple but not easy
Here’s a piece of advice about following people: When you are lost, and you find an experienced traveler who knows the way, follow him or her all the way to the end. The last condition Jesus set in Luke 9 was “Follow Me.” The Master knew that we have a tendency to use Him as far as we feel we need Him then, when we think we have it down, we take off on our own. Oh how much pain we bear because we keep taking those unfortunate sidetrips on the road to heaven. Following Jesus is not easy. It is simple but it is not easy. Here’s why: Simple–All we have to do is do whatever he says and avoid what he commands us to avoid and we’re in! BUT, when you don’t understand or agree with Him about the path being taken and when you see Satan’s decoy road signs glowing in front of you saying “this is the way,” off you go into the wilderness of foolishness–Not easy. Most of our spriritual lives are spent learning how to follow Him, faithfully. More accurately, most of our spiritual lives are spent recovering from our knuckleheaded excursions. The Bible offers help in getting on track and staying there, but following Jesus is the most important command of the three because it encompasses all three in one.
Look at what Revelation 14:1-4 says: Then I looked, and behold, a[a] Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having[b] His Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. 3 They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. 4 These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes.
Now before you get thrown off by the symbols and creatures and the 144,000 stuff, think about it this way. This group being described is a group that makes it all the way to the place of victory. Mt. Zion is depicted as a winner’s circle of sorts. Whether we are in this select group or in the innumerable company on the sea of glass pictured elsewhere in Revelation, anyone who makes it to Mt. Zion will have that package of characteristics stated in the passage. The critical descriptor of this group, when all is said and done, is that they follow the Lamb wherever he goes. Note that it is present tense continuing action. They read the instructions and watch his movements and do whatever it takes to stay on track. Following the Lamb is not a mechanical process; no, it is a set of life-habits and a way of living. Another way of saying it is these people habitually and intentionally follow the Lamb even when they don’t see through life’s fog. They follow the word when they can’t see the way. They have been conditioned through experience with the Holy Spirit and the word to trust the word above their desires or feelings. This takes a miracle of transformation that is emcompassed in the three elements Jesus presented in Luke 9.
Deuteronomy 5:32-33 had this description of how following the Lamb looks:
32 Ye shall observe to do therefore as the Lord your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. 33 Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.
Then in Deuteronomy 6:5-9, Moses shares this guide for how to make following the Lamb a habit:
5 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
Because we talk about and deal with mundane, worldly things far more that we talk about and deal with the things of God, our thinking and identity are bound up in the earthly. We have to make our minds turn to Jesus because we have no real frame of reference with Him. So God has instituted a process that will cause us to develop the habit of thinking about, talking about and living for Him.
This passage above is the process of denying self, picking up the cross and following Jesus. It is keeping Him always in front of your mind. By denying our connection to the life of sin, through taking up the the cross by acknowledging the true depth of our sinful mindset, seeing the horror of evil and slaying the old man through identification with the transformative power of Christ, we construct the pathway to follow Jesus to eternal life. In following our King, we learn that obediece and devotion to Him is not legalism it is the new life of a transformed soul. May God thrill your heart as you deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him.