By Definition, A Follower Must Follow

If I call myself a follower of Christ, I must follow after Him. I don't have the right to a comfort zone. When His cloud begins to move, I move with it. When His fire beckons me, I walk toward it.

A beautifully illustrated volume of Bible stories sat on the bookshelf at the back of my second-grade classroom. The book was larger than any other book in our little library. Each story in the book fit on one page, and each story was accompanied by a beautiful print of Old Masters’ artwork on the page opposite. I loved to flip through the pages when I had free reading time.

The story of Moses captured my imagination. In my seven-year-old mind, I calculated that He led the children of Israel through the desert in record time. I somehow missed the mention of forty years. I pictured the Israelites skipping through the parted waters of the Red Sea, followed by a leisurely stroll to Mount Sinai so they could have a picnic consisting of communion wafers. As my denomination’s wafers were rather tasteless, I was sure that God made manna and wafers from the same recipe.

Exodus 13:21-14 – “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.”

I could understand Moses’ righteous anger when the children of Israel weren’t paying attention to Aaron, their babysitter. After all, Moses was busy talking to God, and he left Aaron in charge! I thought it was sweet of God to give the children a fluffy white cloud to walk under during the day and to give them a nice fire at night, so it wasn’t too frightening for the youngsters. As a seven-year-old, I imagined that it would be fun to be a follower of Yahweh. And so, I reckoned the children of Israel had a pretty good two-week camping trip; considering a couple of snags they had along the way. Before they knew it, they were in the promised land lickety-split.

Are you a follower of God or are you a seeker of pleasant inns?

Contrary to my naïve assumptions, the children of Israel crisscrossed a relatively small area of the desert for forty years. Over those forty years, they became intimately acquainted with every nuance of the terrain. They watched saplings grow into mighty trees. As millions of people plodded along the endless loop, once grassy trails became dusty highways. I imagine people had their favourite spots.

Perhaps, they were tempted to step off the path and set up a permanent camp under the shade of a thicket of trees near a babbling brook. The sight of a protected cave under a cliff might have given a few Israelites a moment’s pause. A perfect place to settle down and raise a family. Despite those temptations, they kept moving; choosing to follow their God.

By definition, a follower must be willing to follow!

The Israelite’s lives depended on Yahweh. Without His protective cloud, they would wither away in the blazing desert sun. Without Yahweh’s pillar of fire illuminating their night camp, they would fall prey to wild animals and marauding tribes.

As a follower of Christ, I must lay down my natural tendency to want to stay in the familiar. When His cloud begins to move, I move with it. When His fire beckons me, I walk toward it. I can’t afford the luxury of camping beside my favourite Bible passages, pet doctrines, beloved worship leaders, and favourite writers. I place my dependence on Yahweh’s provision and protection. He knows His plans will prosper me and bring me hope. Sometimes, we have to walk in obedience before we see the full promise realised.  Remember, God spoke the following to the children of Israel when they were in exile in Babylon – right after He told them it would be 70 years before they returned home.  But His promises are always true!

Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV) – “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Personal Application

“Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.” C. S. Lewis “Problem with Pain” Harper One

Are you a follower of God or are you a seeker of pleasant inns?

Is your comfort zone slowly becoming a cage? When was the last time you bought a book or a worship album that was not authored by your favourite writer or musician?

I am not condoning church-hopping but consider visiting an evangelical church that is not in your stream. Or watch a church service online. Again, choose a podcast that is not from your denominational stream.

Have you fallen into a rut? Ask Yahweh to send you His cloud by day and His fire by night. Be obedient to His promptings, even if they lead you away from your comfort zone. Make it a habit of asking the Holy Spirit for daily assignments and follow through on His promptings.

Further reading on what it means to be a Christ Follower.

All Bible Verses, unless otherwise noted, are attributed to the NASB 1995 version

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©2021 Katherine Walden