“Follow” is an ancient word that has become popular speak in the Christian community the past few years due to Kyle Idleman’s book “not a fan“.
That is a good thing. A necessary thing. Because American Believers had nearly forgotten that concept.
We are fans of so many things and it is impossible to follow each of those passions with our whole heart. We need a center. Jesus is that center.
But this post is not about that book; not about that particular concept.
Several years ago during a time of private communion, I had a vision in which Jesus and I were walking together much like we had 20 years prior to this day. We were near a stream edged with flowers. He led me into the adjacent field of white flowers with a backdrop of mountains. He stood beside me and then I heard Him say ” The women of the veils are beyond the mountains. Will you wait for Me?”. He then turned and walked away. I looked down the field and saw mountains.
I knew what He meant– what He was asking. I knew it would be some time before the dream of ministering to veiled women He had placed in my heart would come to pass. It was not a question of if, but when. And a question of would I wait while I am following Him?
I am still waiting in so many ways. It has not been easy after having led a life of much ministry to people in several different cultures and nations.
Here is what I have learned about following:
Following is not for the timid, nor for the comfort lover.
Following is a decision more than an action. It WILL lead to places – – both physical and spiritual you never intended, let alone imagined that you would go. Go anyway.
Following means you take no baggage.
If you try to hold on, you will become extremely exhausted and will wish for more familiar yet unproductive situations. The shortest distance between two points is irrelevant in following God. Time nor space have little to do with the Ways of God. He does not move in linear ways. His ways are more like a spiral in the sense that they events, truths overlap and build upon another.
It can at times not feel logical nor safe. You will often have to walk through high grass where visibility is “iffy” and snakes abide. Fear not! If you stay on the path He has chosen, you will see yourself change and mature. Don’t try to “make things happen”. Allow for the season of “being still and knowing He is God”.
Detours ARE to be expected. COUNT ON THEM. They will actually lead you to where HE wants you to go. Don’t fight them. Don’t try to do away with them or find a more convenient route. You will regret it. ( Been there, tried to escape, but finally bought the t-shirt *and now wear it with chagrin!) Abba Father has a way of causing you to go right back to the beginning and run that race again so that you don’t lack the endurance He wanted you to gain in the first place. He is all about excellence!
Curves, Falling Rock, and mudslides are also a part of the journey. You will learn to maintain spiritual and emotional balance. The way may not be smooth. That’s o.k.; He will equip your feet to walk where you normally should not be able to!
Following more often than not, will mean waiting. Sometimes even doing what seems like nothing related to what you believe is His vision for you.
THIS is a truth I am very familiar with. In current Christian circles, especially “full gospel” and “Charismatic” circles, it is popular and prevalent to teach that if you are truly following God you will see lots of evidence of that decision. While this is true in it’s most basic form, it is not accurate nor even scriptural to expect tangible evidence of the “following”. Yes, Scripture says “by their fruits you will know them”. But it does not say you shall know them (Believers) by their acts, ministry, notoriety, nor shiny shingles hung by the office door. Yet these are the measuring tools used today. My husband and I have been challenged on this point by many well- meaning Brothers and Sisters in Christ who have bought into the idea that God responds to us instead of the other way around. Grace be to them and I understand because I also believed that at one time. It took a series of falling rocks, detours, and seemingly contradictory situations to get me to see the error. YES, God does respond to us, but those responses are the fruit of our having a teachable and humble spirit that listens and obeys HIS commands/direction, as opposed to our visions and desires of our heart.
While it is currently very popular and sounds good to say “Follow Your Bliss”–“Chase Your Dreams”
it is not scriptural. Sorry, it just isn’t. If you want to be a stable, mature Believer that the King can call upon at a moment’s notice, you must embrace His Holiness and His Sovereignty. When you are a young Believer you will see results fairly quickly as the Father wants to strengthen your faith and build your confidence as you grow. Like earthly parents, He will increase the test and entrust you with more responsibility as we respond to Him in faith and trust. AND you will experience getting to know Him personally. Yes, personally. You will know what brings Him joy, what pleases Him and what grieves Him. And You will know what it is like to hear Him tell you “It is going to be ok”, or “Well done!”
Following often means standing still; THAT is not popular!
Abba is more concerned with character than He is our dreams. You know where you have come from, and where you are. But God knows also where you are going. Don’t give in to the pressures from people or the enemy to be in a big hurry. Hurry and worry are satanic tools: Peace and Patience are Heaven’s twins. When someone tries to tell you that you are being complacent or indifferent, remind them of a few Scriptural examples where following God meant standing still:
Abraham comes to mind. He waited quite a while on that promise of countless descendants!
Noah. Yeah. He waited in a stinky, rocking box of a season of following before he saw the earth be renewed. God was with him every second of what must have been a very odd time in his life. Yet when complete, he witnessed the glory of God!
Job. Of course, we cannot overlook Job. You know, the guy that lost everything he had worked diligently for and then his family and health too! Yet, Scripture says “that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.” ( Job chapter 1) He remained faithful and even though he questioned himself, he blessed the Lord. He was a follower on the inside, though every outward appearance would point to forsaken.
And Joseph– how does 22 years strike you? Yes, he waited 22 years. No “fruit” was produced during that time? I beg to differ. He learned meekness, patience, humility and longsuffering! Yet a Believer today who is in obscurity is often ostracized instead of recognized as a faithful one bearing those fruits. We want flash, stage presence, checklists of accomplishments while God is looking on the heart. Let’s get back to the basics of Christian faith!
Following often has seasons that are very
quiet ( make that deadening-ly silent!), dull and unremarkable. Jesus Himself was not “in the spotlight” for very long upon this earth. Yet like Joseph, God was with Him and when the appointed time came it was obvious the favor of the Lord rested upon them both!
I have struggled with this. I had great dreams of traveling to many countries and cultures to learn of the people and share the Gospel with them. It has been over 10 years of waiting. I confess, we did try to speed things up, to give the cart a bit of help, until we realized that it had square wheels and was going nowhere without the hand of God to shape them! It cost us a few friends, and we had to come to grips with the fact that we had absorbed some erroneous teaching. That’s when we bought the aforementioned t-shirt. *
Maybe my time, my husband and my “appointed time” to serve in vocational ministry will only be a few years, or even a few months? I don’t know. I DO know that as long as my heart remains tender and teachable, He is at work and preparing a place for us to stand. And when that reveal comes, we will, we MUST continue to follow. It is HIS dream, His vision and HIS Kingdom. So I choose to wholeheartedly embrace the season of training for our upcoming assignment. ? I AM a follower who is learning that everything depends upon Him and none of it is about me.
So now you know the story behind the collection!
FOLLOW: My “one word” for 2017
verb: follow; follows; followed; followed; following
go or come after (a person or thing proceeding ahead); move or travel behind.come behind, come after, go behind, go after, walk behind
accompany, go along with, go around with, travel with, escort, attend, trail around with, string along with; informal tag along with; go after (someone) in order to observe or monitor.
Strive after; aim at.
go along (a route or path). To come after in time or order. obey, comply with, conform to, adhere to, stick to, keep to, hew to, act in accordance with, abide by, observe, heed, pay attention to;
pay close attention to (something).
keep track of; trace the movement or direction of.
maintain awareness of the current state or progress of
practice (a trade or profession).
undertake or carry out (a course of action or study).
act according to the lead or example of (someone).
(of a route or path) go in the same direction as or parallel to (another).
go after (someone) in order to observe or monitor. Be a fan of, be a supporter of, support, be a follower of, be an admirer of, be a devotee of, be devoted to