Posted: 11/16/19 at 12:00pm. Column by Ed Jordan.
When Jesus invites people to enter into a relationship with himself, he uses the words: “Come, follow me.” We often read over those words and miss the meaning of the word “follow.”
When I was a teenager, we used to cross creeks by jumping from one rock to another. The first person to cross had to test the footing of each rock, then the person following them would step on the same tested rocks.
This is following: Someone leads the way, and the rest follow the footsteps of the leader.
Following requires more than just taking one step. Following implies that the leader moves and the others move behind him. Many followers of Jesus today have taken the first step or two in following him, meaning, they believed and were baptized. But then they assume they are therefore following Jesus, even if they never follow his instructions, read their Bible, or attend church.
The truth is that following Jesus is a life-long, hour by hour, step-by-step adventure.
Sometimes we struggle with trying to follow God, because he is often invisible to us. However, whenever we see the activity of God, we can see where God is working. We see an example of this principle in Psalm 77:19-20. It is a poetic description of how God delivered Israel from Egypt by parting the Red Sea, which allowed them to escape from the hand of Pharaoh and slavery in Egypt.
Psalm 77:16–20 (CSB): “The water saw you, God. The water saw you; it trembled. Even the depths shook. The clouds poured down water. The storm clouds thundered; your arrows flashed back and forth. The sound of your thunder was in the whirlwind; lightning lit up the world. The earth shook and quaked. Your way went through the sea and your path through the vast water, but your footprints were unseen. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”
When God stepped in, creation saw it, and poetically the waters came alive and fled, making a way through the sea. While in this Psalm it is poetry, it also expresses the truth that God is real, the Creator and Lord of creation, and that he can do the impossible, utilizing the otherwise predicable aspects of nature. When God steps into a situation, he overrides the natural with the supernatural.
Israel saw God at work in parting the sea for them to cross on dry land, and then closing the waters back onto the pursuing chariots and army of Pharaoh. When you read the book of Joshua, you see that many of the people living in the Fertile Crescent also heard the news of what God had done and feared God’s power as a result. It really happened.
In this passage we see three things that help us follow God, even though sometimes he is seemingly invisible. In verse 19 we see that God often leads us through obstacles which would stop anyone else. As humans, operating with our natural abilities and limitations, we try to find ways around an obstacle.
God, with supernatural abilities and power, often takes the path that goes through, rather than around obstacles. God takes on the big challenges, going through seemingly impossible obstacles like a hot knife through butter, revealing the greatness of his power. So natural obstacles or challenges might point to God’s supernatural way forward.
Another way to see the activities of the invisible God is to watch for his ways and paths. What God has done in the past might be a path you will find him on in the present. This is what the Psalmist was doing.
He was reminding us that God had miraculously delivered his people in the past, even through impossible scenarios. Our situations may look different, but at their core they are often very similar to the circumstances of his people in times past; times when God intervened and did the impossible.
The third way to see God, is to entrust your life and decisions to him and to trust him to lead you on the best route. God is consistent in character; trust him to care for you in your current scenario. He is a shepherd who loves his flock, who knows each sheep by name, and knows their strengths and weaknesses.
When facing the impossible, trust the God who specializes in things thought impossible. Look for his presence, his guidance, and the path he is leading you on. Then follow Him, stepping where he steps.