Sunday, September 14, 2008

Follow Me...

I don't often say, "I need a break." I have periodic "breaks" as I attend Bible Study, Sunday School, dinner with friends etc. However, that doesn't mean that sometimes I don't look at Mike and say, "I am going to the store...ALONE!!!" This past week I needed a break. Ella was getting molars (or something) I think I am allergic to my house, I wanted to be back at the beach...I just wanted to be Ali. Thankfully I had a baby shower to attend in Atlanta and by the power of God I would also be meeting some of my favorite friends for lunch.

I actually thought twice about leaving on Friday night. I still needed to plan math and history and thought maybe a Friday night at home would be good for me. I called my friend to tell her I may not make it, but upon hearing her voice, I began grabbing my stuff and getting ready to have a mini road trip. I got all of my directions printed and my phone numbers written down and stapled together and I was ready to go. The kids began melting. You would think that I never see them the way they began carrying on. I peeled everyone off, and hit the road.

I'm trying to get to the point, I just like setting these up...so I sat in a little bit of traffic where I was able to pluck my eyebrows and read a book. I had some wonderful prayer time with my good friends Watermark.

Now would be a good time to tell you that I do not enjoy driving on large interstates. I do not see well in the dark and I do not do well with directions. Having that said, it was getting dark. Have you ever tried to navigate in the dark? I was a nervous wreck! I had to keep turning on the light to know what I was looking for next. "Alright 285 to 85, 285 to 85 was that north or south? Rats, why can't I turn the light on? North, right, that would make sense Atlanta is north of Augusta, right? 85 in 1 1/2 miles...will I need to be in the right lane? Am I merging? What's this idiot doing? Oh, that's me..." I had to turn the radio down and really concentrate. I didn't enjoy the ride. It made me nervous and I wondered if Mike would remarry if I got into an accident and would his new wife Classically Homeschool my children. Seriously, I go there. I decided that it would be much easier to have someone with me that either knew where they were going and would drive, or could at least tell me where to turn. My mind started thinking of the "God is my co-pilot" signs. That leads me to believe that people are still in charge, but at least God is telling them where to go...but the Lord refined this picture for me.

My friend is expecting her first baby, so she had a good bit of family in town and I was going to spend the night with her friend. I met at Jenny's house and got to visit with her for a while before I headed to Elise's house. The drive to Elise's was much different from the drive to Jenny's.

There were several similarities; it was dark, I was alone and I didn't know where I was going. The differences were that I didn't have directions, but I was following someone who knew where they were going. I had the radio up and was singing along. This time I was enjoying the ride. Elise knew where she was going. She has travled that route probably hundreds of times. I could depend on her sense of direction, I could trust her. Now, wouldn't it have been silly of me to flash my lights and pull over and tell her that she missed her turn, or that I knew of a shortcut? She would probably laugh at me and tell me to keep following. What if I insisted that I knew more? That although I had never seen her house, and had certainly never traveled this route, I knew of a better, more efficient way. Now, all of you would say that is just plain foolish. It is. You know what, you are just as guilty as I am of doing this on a regular basis. Did I say regular basis? I meant to say daily.

As I thought about that drive to Elise's house, this thought came to mind, "Following someone who knows where they are going is way easier than navigating myself." The Lord was like, "BINGO!" Now, I could go in several directions, different twists...having God in my car, He is in control of the steering wheel...but for the purpose of this post, He is the car in front of me. I didn't take my eyes off of that car. If I would have lost Elise I wouldn't have known where to go. I would have just parked my car until she came to find me. (Jesus leaves the 99, that's another post, though) I enjoyed the ride. I sang my music, but I didn't take my eyes off that car. I didn't look at the scenery. I didn't allow people to get in between us. I was following, and following closely. Without her I was lost. In the night. Without a map. Without directions even. Without my husband. Lost.

My favorite verse to study, especially with new believers is Matthew 6:33, " 'Come, follow me', Jesus said, 'and I will make you fishers of men.'" Almost everytime Jesus called His disciples the next verse is usually, "Immediately they dropped their nets and followed him." No questions. There were no negotiations. They weren't asking about insurance packets or the safety aspect. They knew Him, they had heard Him, they were honored to be called by name. They did the only thing they could do, drop everything and follow.

I followed two other people to various places while I was there and I never had to turn around once. I got home quickly and was glad to be home. Every time I followed someone I kept thinking of that passage and what blind faith really is. I totally believed that the people I was following were going to get me where I needed to be. I wasn't anxious. I didn't question whether we had missed a turn or if we were going the long way. I didn't ask them to explain the route. I just stayed close. I didn't stop and shop or look around. I followed. I put my blinker on when they put their blinker on. When they got over, I got over. When they arrived, so did I.

We are following Jesus somewhere. For now He is navigating us through this life, but our ultimate goal is Home. We've never been there, but He has gone before us. He actually tells us that He is preparing a place for us. Take that in. Jesus is preparing a place for us.

Just like it is foolish for us to flash our lights at the lead car and declare they are going the wrong way, it is foolish of us to tell Him that He doesn't know where He is going and He should get behind us. Oh please, Father, never allow us to get ahead of you. While I was traveling I thought of the passage in Exodus where the Israelites have been freed, and Moses is questioning who is going to help him lead the people. Come with me... "'If you are pleaed with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.' The LORD replied, 'My Presence will go with you, and I wil give you rest.' Then Moses said to him, 'If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?' And the LORD said to Moses, 'I will do the very thing you asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.'" Exodus 33:13-17 I love the first part of that, "If your Presence isn't going...neither are we."

Following God, being led by His Presence, is what sets us apart. Moses knew without being led by Him, all was lost. They might as well stay put.

As I followed those people around Atlanta I decided that I really want to enjoy following God. I want to be as confident in God to get me where I am supposed to be, as I was with the near stranger (a dear friend of my dear friend) that got me back to I-85. I want to rest in the Truth that the Maker of Heaven and Earth can get me safely home...whatever that looks like. It does not mean we sit idly by. We fix our eyes, like glue, on the Hand of God. We listen to His heartbeat and go where we hear it beat loudest. We don't stop to shop...or ask directions from someone else. No, we follow, and in following we will not only arrive at our destination, we'll maybe bring a few others with us.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:1-2 (3 is awesome too!)

Well, now I'm late for church...how's that for following close?! I enjoyed that, I hope you did too. I'm easily distracted as a follower. I must remember that without keeping my eyes FIXED ON HIM I am absolutely alone. Lost. In the night. Without a map. Just lost.

Follow close. I'll see you there.

8 comments:

The Moon Family said...

Oh, GIRL, that is a really good one. I needed to be reminded to stop being a backseat driver or 'mapquesting' my own way.
I miss you!! Hope you're doing well. Blog more! I check it all the time, hoping there will be a new Ali post!

Sharon said...

Great Post. Amazing how hard it is to follow someone else.... sometimes they go so slow, sometimes too fast...life is like that.

Linda said...

Thank you for this post. For OH so many reasons.

First - the Atlanta "tour"...memories. I would have driven you there...I lived there, I lived through your agony and fear at one time. I'm an "old salt" (or at least I WAS; time changes everything) in that city.

Next - the 99. Call me stupid...I didn't get it at first. I've heard the song "I leave 99, leave them all behind, just to find you". But I didn't get it, couldn't associate it. And then *BAM*, the shepard and the sheep...he brought his 99 home safely then left to find his lost sheep. Had you not said that God would come find you (leaving 99), I'd STILL be stupid to that song and that phrase. Now I know...and I'll ALWAYS know!

Last - following God...it's SO great...it's the best feeling...as long as you're willing to let him lead and you're not trying to be the leader!

We've had a "journey of discernment" these last 8 weeks at church and part of it has been learning to follow what we KNOW to be God and not what we THINK to be God.

Thanks for this tall cup of cold water...I was really thirsty, and this was truly satisfying!

Ali said...

I really am humbled at how this ministers to you all. Yesterday I said, "Mike, I really would like to have a designated time to write, am I going to have to leave the house?" He goes, "No, you can write at home." I just looked at him and smiled...you should have seen me trying to get this cup of cold water to ya...

I'm so thankful that it is a source of encouragement to everyone who reads it. Your journeys encourage me!

Berry Patch said...

I love your perspective, Ali. I'm so glad Linda told me about your blog. This post was exceptional. So very, very true. Good stuff for me to think on. Thanks.

The Severances said...

How about following someone down I-20 to my house here in Florence, SC?!! For real, I loved your post and will chew on it for a while. We are too close not to visit each other sometime in the next year. Thanks for sharing through this blog. I love it.

Ali said...

Lia,
I would LOVE to...what days are good for you, seriously...

Kim said...

Ali. How true...how true! That was such a good reminder for me. It's so easy to take your eyes off of God, what with worry and stress and the daily stuff that is our lives. But God knows what He is doing and where He is going.
I am one who is scared of heights. Your story made me think of being on one of those suspension bridges in the mountains of TN. Everyone kept saying, "Just don't look down." I just had to keep looking straight ahead! If I look down, I panic and freeze in fear, ultimately getting nowhere! Thanks for your analogy and beautiful insight! Good food and drink!