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13 June, 2013

Follow Me ─ Why Do So Many Give Up? ─ Part One

As I was comparing Oswald Chambers’s devotion for June 12 and June 13, I grinned with a pain in my heart knowing full well, those two little words “follow Me” are jam-packed with unexpected surprises and detours. I don’t think you will ever meet a true Christian who has decided to follow and was not shocked at finding out what Christ’s standards of “follow Me” meant.  When we find out what “follow Me” truly means to Him, we find we have two options. We either keep going through the toils and the snares or you let the tiredness of the journey gets to you, and you stop walking with Him.   As we chose the last option, we never realize that the next step is backsliding. Although, it makes sense that we backslide when we stop following, because true Christianity is a journey where we have to keep going forward with the Holy Spirit.

I remember one Sunday after service I was talking to an elder of the Church and he was also the past chairman. I guess because he did not see me as a threat, he was telling me how he got tired on the road with no courage left to pick up and follow after Him. Since he knew I was part of the prayer team, he told me to pray for Him. But, as he kept talking I found out this man stopped following so long ago, even before he became an elder. He knew exactly which event took place in his life that caused him to stop. Yet as he was talking he kept saying, it was other people’s fault that caused him to be discouraged. In the meantime he had no idea that I was shocked beyond beliefs. 

This happened after I just started the wilderness path with God, so I did not have enough knowledge and the boldness that comes from walking with Him, to respond to him.  As I assessed what I was being told, I realized this mild mannered man knew the Scriptures well enough and carried himself in a manner that would make anyone who is not walking in the Spirit, to appreciate and trust him enough to make him chairman of the Church. Yet, from what he told me, even though I was not mature enough, I knew he did not get to the place where he stopped following after God, because of other people. His problem was only his need to follow while holding onto his own self interests. He wanted both at any cost.  

In my limitation of God way and knowledge, I could see one of his major problems was learning dependence on God.  In all the leadership positions he held, he could not understand why it was so hard to get other Christians to do things as they are told and to understand they were working for the Lord. Ironically, he could not see this was exactly what he was doing to Christ. By then I was a Christian for about seven years and I just started the process of following Him in the wilderness. Not knowing what those words “follow Me” fully entails, I kept asking myself how did this man manage to get to this stage with God?

You see, in my mind, I had a good idea what it meant to follow after Him, I knew I needed to die to self and I knew I needed to depend on Him. What I did not know was, thinking and reading about dying to self was not the same thing as experiencing it. Even though we read some of the apostle’s stories in the Bible, along with people like David and Joseph, they do not come close to preparing us to go through Christ’s demands as we follow wholeheartedly. When God decides to deal with you so you can shed the self-life, you find out, what those people endured over two thousands years ago, is still going on right now because God, being in the business of making holy people one by one, He is still acting in the same way today. By the same token, we have no idea until God shows us who we are, that our self interest has a life on its own, so much so it seems bigger than life. And in the eyes of God this self interest life got to go.

I don’t think there is one of us who has not found out the hard way at our own expenses the meaning of those words “follow Me” Through finding out at my own expenses, I know, as the Spirit of God works in us, we can see that the path forward is so not appealing that we are not looking forward to it. Yet, God has a way of burning the bridges right behind you and you find out you cannot go back. What I find interesting about God, is that He would burn bridges which prevent you from going back, but He will not force you to go forward because the only way you can keep going forward is through dependence on Him. Because your measure of dependence on Him will depend on your faith in Him, to some extend, it make sense that He cannot force you to go forward with Him.

Letting go of our self-interests, is soooo painful and the pain does not seem to end because there is always something we are holding onto that needs to be surrendered to Him.