Receive the Simplicity of Following Jesus
When my children have an opportunity to pick out a prize or a gift from a wide range of choices, I have two girls who react in two completely opposite ways. One is indecisive and takes a very long time before she finally chooses a toy. She overanalyzes her decision, she has to consider all her choices, and she even has to know what her siblings chose before she chooses herself. On the other end of the spectrum, I have a child who sees what she wants and never looks back. Sometimes I try to make sure that she really saw all the choices that were available. But it usually doesn’t matter what I say, or what others chose, her decision is solid. When she has made up her mind on what she wants, there’s no other option for her. “I want that one.” Done. Game over.
I think the latter response is the more childlike one. When children are presented with a wide range of choices, it can feel overwhelming and distracting at first, but after giving a quick browse…one choice usually stands out more than the rest. One choice seems to call out to them. When that happens, children tend to have a tunnel vision. They see nothing else but that choice.
I want to go back to that. There are so many distractions and choices and responsibilities and obligations and expectations. My calendar fills up quickly. My To-Do list never ends. There’s always something that I can be doing more, or something that I can be doing better. Then there’s the monster of comparison, which only continues to become a bigger monster thanks to social media. There are also genuine concerns, often about the well-being of my children – how they are doing physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. How is our marriage doing? There are friendships to consider. Then there are global issues such as child poverty and human trafficking. What can I do to help?
There are so, so many things my mind can choose to focus on. But one stands out above the rest. One choice calls me by name.
My soul hears the call and responds, “I want that one.”
Just give me Jesus.
I long to embrace the simplicity of just following Jesus. Adults (myself included) have complicated what that means in the name of religion. I’m starting to see that Jesus never meant for it to be complicated or overwhelming. He told some fishermen, “Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people” (Mark 1:17). Immediately, they left their nets and started following Him. Seriously, do we ever take a minute to really consider this? Fishing was their life, that’s all they’ve ever known. Some guy comes up to them and says to follow Him. They didn’t try to bring their stuff back to their house first, they didn’t try to pack and prepare…they immediately started following Him. None of us can even go on a vacation in the same manner. Why did they do that? I believe…it’s because Jesus was that compelling. They sensed in their heart, even though the future was unknown, that He would be enough for them. He held all the answers for them.
Zacchaeus spent one afternoon with Jesus. That was enough to turn his life completely around. He went from being a rich man who cheated people to get what he wants to a man who wanted to do right by people and give his wealth away. Really, how did such transformation happen in one day? An encounter with Jesus.
He really is that compelling, that captivating, that life-changing. Just one encounter with Him can completely turn the course of a man’s life…forever.
So practically speaking, in our everyday lives, what does it look like to just simply follow Jesus? It’s a question I hope to take some time to ponder on, and I hope to blog about it more here from time to time. For now, I think it means to consciously turn my focus on Him above all else. Practice becoming more aware of His presence. Be expectant of and look for opportunities to have special encounters with Him. Allow myself to soak in His love through nature, solitude, music, good company, His Love Letter (the Bible), or whatever means available. Learn to quiet my mind…and give Him more space to occupy it.
Jesus is calling us by name and speaking softly to our hearts: Don’t be distracted by all these choices. Don’t compare your life to everyone else’s. I’m the one you want. I’m the one your soul longs for. I’m the answer, I’m the one who can satisfy, I’m the one who can give you purpose. I’m your choice. When you are focused on Me alone, it won’t matter what everyone else’s life looks like. It won’t matter if all your to-do list is done. It won’t matter if you solved all the problems in the world, or even a single problem in your life. It will just be about you and Me. When you stay with Me, your weary soul will find rest. When you walk with Me, you will find abundant life.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
Oh soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness to see
There’s a light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
–Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30 The Message)
Receive the childlike SIMPLICITY of following Jesus.