“You follow me, Peter.”
The directive Jesus offered Peter still holds firm right now for me. Like Peter, I find myself turning my attention to those around me, out of concern for them only (of course), and then being sure that I question God about their direction. “But Lord, what about him or what about her?”
Several years ago, I had the opportunity to lead a weight loss group at church. I committed completely to the program. I listened to the tapes, took notes, and read through the required Scriptures. I also added two additional Bible studies during the program to help me with my focus. I prayed over the decisions I made about the food. I had determination and persistence in spades. I was thrilled when the weight started slipping away.
Until . . .
One of the other participants lost twice as much weight as I had lost. She bragged about how she had made the choice not to eat a second helping of her favorite dish. After class, I took a walk. I looked up at the sky and said, “Seriously, God?” I mumbled about all of my sacrifices. I made sure to point out all that I was investing in. “What about me?” I demanded.
I felt in my heart – but would not be shocked to find out that it had been audible (because it was that strong), “You let me worry about John. You follow Me.”
I struggle with that still on more days than I want to admit. The addition of social media has only caused more episodes. As a writer, I pour out my heart into my books, my posts, and my blogs. I pray over what I am presenting. I review the efforts. I ask others to review the efforts so that I can be sure that they are as clean and precise as possible. I invest in creating the words of hope and inspiration into a complete and professional package. I step back and admire my work and my journey.
Until . . .
I read the post about the person who threw out the words and threw together a cover and threw together a package and it went viral. She sells hundreds a day. I have to take that walk outside to clear my head and keep myself from throwing my computer in the creek. I look up at the sky. “Seriously, God?” I wander around mumbling something along the lines of, “I study and prepare for the words. I think about others when packaging the words. I listen for your direction. Look at what she does. When will it be my time?”
Sometimes I feel the words before I can finish my rant. Sometimes I even choose to listen to the words. “You let me worry about John. You follow Me.”
I get up every morning at the crack of dawn and complete a workout routine designed to get my heart pumping and all my appendages moving. I take another half hour to cool down with stretches that I learned years ago when I was still dancing. I stay consistent and focused – even with that nagging voice trying to convince me to just stay in bed. My muscles begin to show. My posture improves. I feel better all around.
Until . . .
I see the images of the person taking the pill, or I read a post that includes the ever decreasing numbers of his weight loss journey. He is grinning like a possum and I see nothing about the before dawn investments.
I take my walk outside so that I can rant without scaring the children. “Seriously, God?” I am fed up at this point. “I complete my workout. I pray about my actions and choices. I am trying to invest in listening and following you. He takes a pill. When will it be my turn?”
The voice is back, and this time it makes me a little uncomfortable. “You let me worry about John. You follow Me.”
I believe I may be close to a breakthrough on this subject. It has to be about my obedience and not the journey of others. No matter what the reason, the moment my focus shifts to another person then I lose my direction. I have to choose to stay focused on doing what I have been led to do – not what he has been led to do (or maybe is just choosing to do) and not what she had been led to do.
We are each unique in our journey, and if I invest my energy in measuring your journey compared to mine then I will miss out on some of my own, usually important, steps.
“You let me worry about John. You follow Me.”
I know that when I let these words truly take root in my heart then I will begin to grow into that place that I know I am called to dwell.