Following Jesus

Recently, my family had a long discussion about our schedules, our activities, the way we plan to spend the next six months of our lives.  This was a difficult conversation for us, because we had so many “good” things to do.  We wanted to fill our days and nights with good things.  We talked about our church commitments, school commitments, work commitments and family fun-time commitments.  

    Quickly, we realized that we simply had too many things and not enough clarity about what really mattered most in our lives.  We seemed to know what mattered most, but in all honesty we were struggling to find a way forward in making the necessary changes.  Very soon thereafter we dropped the conversation, because we had a mission trip to Nicaragua that took our attention.  On the heels of the mission trip I left for two weeks of study leave to work on PhD research.  So, we didn’t get any more time to discuss the “good things” until I returned home.

    When the three of us converged back home for more conversation, we found that God had been working in us in deep ways.  As parents, Becky and I were feeling the stress of just what to do.  We were leaning to deeply on our own decision-making power, and not asking the Holy Spirit to guide our conversations and decisions as we should have.  

    It seems, however, that Evan was doing something else.  He had just returned from youth camp.  His mother and I spent a day with him just catching up, and hearing his stories from camp.  In the midst of that conversation I felt prompted to ask him if God had spoken to him about anything.  He paused for a moment.  Then, he began to tell me that he was making a significant change in his life.  He had been making decisions to involve himself in particular good activities in order to impress people, he said.  He told me, “Dad, I need to impress God with my life.”  

    In that moment I knew God had re-ordered our world as a family.  No decision had come from Becky or me.  The decision had come through our son by the power of the Holy Spirit.  In the moments that followed we thanked God as a family for Evan’s courage made possible by Jesus at work in him.  In those moments we were renewed by God, and we were challenged by Jesus:  “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.  For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?  Or what will they give in return for their life?” (Matthew 16:24-26, NRSV)

    As we journey together in the days to come, we invite you to join us in following Jesus.   He never disappoints.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Phil