Here is another gem from one of our regulars, Mike Barnes of Gateway Fellowship in Natomas. When I read his thoughts about following, it is sobering to me to realize that what I do (or don't do) affects those around me and those who follow me. I trust it will challenge you in a similarly healthy way. -Ray
My wife and I regularly drive together to church on Sundays but occasionally need to drive separately. Such was the occasion on a recent weekend when, as we walked out of the house, Janet said to me, “I will follow you.” The meaning of her four simple words have become more profound in the days since first spoken.
As I lead the way over surface streets and then the freeway towards church, I kept watch in my mirrors to see that Janet was keeping pace. When making lane changes or turns, I made sure I timed them so that she could also change course.
At one point, I moved into a faster lane and then saw that my wife was blocked by surrounding traffic. Had I not noticed and continued ahead, instead of slowing as I did, we would have found considerable and unanticipated distance between us. At this point and in the days since, Janet’s words took on new meaning.
Whether understood or even desired, as a husband, father, co-worker, friend, and Christian I have others ‘following’ me and who are affected by my decisions.
When I forge ahead quickly with a new plan at work but don’t involve others in the thought process, I effectively leave them ‘stuck in traffic’ behind me. When I demand that friends just ‘accept me for who I am’ rather than seek personal maturity and accountability, I force them to decide to either slow down or move on.
I see how often as a father of now-adult children I was more concerned with just moving ahead quickly instead of seeking understanding, and through my sternness, dogma, or frustration failed to take into consideration where they were and the ‘traffic’ they had to deal with when I was correcting or admonishing them harshly.
And my wife, the one whose four simple words has taken me so much further than a simple drive to church. She willingly follows me not just to church on Sunday, but in the paths of this life’s peaks, deep valleys, boring straightaways, and unexpected sharp turns.
Knowing my wife, family, and others do indeed follow me in various ways, I must ‘keep watch’ and be even more considerate of where they are when I change lanes, speed up, or make turns caused by the many decisions affecting us all. In doing so I hope to prevent unnecessary and unanticipated distances in the relationships I hold dear.
And how can I not also consider a similar truth of my life’s statement to the One to whom we are each betrothed. It is either a flexible promise where I say I will follow Him, or instead descriptive of a current truth. Just as my bride’s life towards me conveys not four, but three profound words, may His bride’s also proclaim: I follow You.