Jesus and His disciples were headed for a village when a man stopped them on the road and declared:
“I will follow you wherever you go.”
Sounds like something you’d want to be known for, right? “I’m the one who told Jesus I would follow Him wherever He would go!”
But when the man of Luke 9 made this statement, Jesus didn’t seem all that impressed. In essence, Jesus answered, “You realize I’m homeless, right?”
If the man had readily agreed to follow Jesus anyway, we’d probably know him as the thirteenth disciple. But by all indications, the price of homelessness was too steep a cost for this man to pay. Though he was no doubt a good person, his declaration of unfailing devotion was empty: He knew the right words to say, but he couldn’t bring his heart to match them.
As I’ve thought over this passage lately, I’ve felt convicted. Three times a week, I go to church. I sing words like, “Everything I give to you . . . withholding nothing” and “If all is what You ask of me, I will not withhold.” The tears flow, and my emotions are swept up in the power of the words and the pull of the music.
And then I go home and selfishly guard my time and my precious schedule.
I take that money that should have gone in Sunday’s sacrificial offering, and I buy those cute toddler shoes I saw on eBay instead. I dig into the chocolate-chip cookies when I know deep inside that a day of fasting is in order. One moment I’m saying, “I will follow You, Jesus, wherever You go,” and the next I’m saying, “Well, at least if there’s nothing better to do.”
In Kyle Idleman’s book Not a Fan (Student Edition) (which I very much recommend, by the way!), he says, “If a rabbi decided to go to the market, his students would follow. And if a rabbi decided to go to another town, his students would follow. If the rabbi needed to visit someone sick in the area, his students would follow. When the rabbi slept, his students would sleep. When the rabbi ate, his students would eat. They were with him every step of every day.”
In the New Testament, we witness this close relationship between teacher and student in the way Jesus’ disciples literally left their families and careers and followed Jesus wherever He went. It is said that this rabbi-student concept birthed the Jewish saying, “May you be covered in his dust.”
If we are really following Jesus, we will go where He goes. We will walk behind Him every step of the dusty way. We will be covered in His dust.
At first thought, this sounds a little romantic: Covered in Jesus’ dust! What a beautiful concept!
But if that’s our first reaction (as it was mine), maybe we aren’t so different from the man who told Jesus he was ready to follow wherever Jesus would go; maybe our starry-eyed notions don’t quite match the reality of the conditions of our hearts.
As ladies, it is easy for us to understand that being covered in dust actually isn’t all that glamorous.
If you’re covered in dust, you’re probably a little uncomfortable. You’re not exactly in a state where you want to draw a lot of attention to yourself. You’re not planning on taking a selfie anytime soon, and your pride is temporarily out the window.
Being covered in Jesus’ dust means you follow Him everywhere, including the places normal people don’t want to go. You follow Him as He ministers in love to the woman no one wants to be seen with at the well. You follow Him to sickbeds and into raging, heart-stopping storms. And, when the time comes, you follow Him to the agony of the cross.
When it comes to following Jesus, today’s culture wants to know what they get out of it.
The mind-set of the day is that we should do only what makes us feel good. That’s why there are so many watered-down versions of Christianity. People want to know: If Jesus isn’t going to make life easy for me, why should I follow Him?
The thing is, Jesus never promised He’d make life easy. But this is what He did promise:
- Freedom from sin
- Plans for a future and for hope
- Rest for your soul
- Power for the weak and strength for the powerless
- To supply all your needs
- An intense, unfailing love toward you
- Peace of mind
- Eternal life
My challenge to you (and to myself) is to keep singing the songs about surrendering all and withholding nothing. But let them be more than empty promises made to the rhythm of a good beat on a beautiful Sunday morning.
Meditate on their significance. Dedicate your minutes and your dollars and your heart to fulfilling their meaning. Live them out loud by following Jesus in action as well as in word.