At first I followed Him because of what He saved me from, rather than what He had called me to. I just knew I wanted to be saved from the consequences of my sin. But, as I grew in my relationship with Jesus, I started to see more and more of what He had called me to. Instead of just giving me a ticket away from the place no one wants to go to, He also offered to be my companion on the journey and to give me His heart.
Over time, I grew to love our times together. I loved sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to His words. There was no place I would rather be than with Him and with those who love Him. My relationship with Jesus was characterized by me saying, “Come and be with me,” rather than following the call to come and follow Him.
In Song of Solomon 2, the Beloved is caring for the one He loves. He gives her the choicest of foods and meets her every need. She is aware that He goes out to the mountains and the valleys, but is content in the comfort of her home, as long as He comes to visit. As their relationship continues to grow, He invites her to join Him. She delays because she has just cleaned up and doesn’t want her life to get messy, but eventually she realizes she would rather be in His presence than in her neat and tidy home. He is what she wants, not comfort or familiarity, but Him.
This is my story too. I knew of others who were invited to go out on adventures with Jesus, which was great for them, but I was glad to stay home with my children, my western toilet and clean water. As the years have passed and my relationship with Jesus has grown, my love of security has been dwarfed by my desire to be with Jesus wherever He is in whatever He is doing. It has never been about the adventure for me. It has always been about being with Jesus and sharing His heart. His heart has always been for the lost, the sick and the broken.
Years ago, my husband Don was diagnosed with cancer. We had a busy ministry to match our busy home and I was hurting for my six children, wondering if their faith would make it through the challenges they faced. I remember praying, “Lord, will you please send people to minister to my children during this time?” The minute I prayed, I felt like the Lord said, “Now you understand my heart.” I was identifying with Jesus in Matthew 9:36-38; “When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to the disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.’” I understood the passage in a whole new light. There are so many people whom He wants to know His love, and He is asking us to follow Him in order to draw them in too.
I’m so thankful He kept asking me to join Him. As I’ve followed Jesus I’ve had front row seats to see prostitutes who felt their lives were worthless be given worth by the Creator of the world. I’ve seen HIV positive children given hope for a life and a future. I’ve watched lepers lift their hands in praise to a Father that has given them value and purpose. We have rejoiced as we’ve seen alcoholic fathers set free and returned to care for their families. The joy of seeing the poor in villages that had never heard about Jesus be transformed by Christ, is a joy far greater than I could have ever imagined when I said, “yes,” to come and follow Him. I am so thankful for what He saved me from, and what He called me to!
Has Jesus asked you to follow Him to places you didn’t think you’d ever go? Do you follow Jesus because of what He saved you from or for what He has called you to?
We also encourage you to join us next weekend, January 22-23, at World Mandate. Whether you live in Waco or move to the remote corners of the world, God has called all of us to carry His heart for the nation. World Mandate will be an incredible weekend to hear more about what God is doing in the earth and how you can be a part. Register today at worldmandate.com.
By Julie Steadman