Following Jesus is not a formula, although sometimes I wish it was.
The disciples did too. One day, Jesus cast out a demon that they had not been able to deal with. So, they took Jesus aside to ask Him why. They wanted to know where they had gone wrong. What had they missed or failed to say or do? They wanted Jesus to give them a failsafe plan, some sort of demon busters 101, a handy card in their pocket with infographics.
But this is not the Kingdom way.
It is no coincidence that the Bible so often uses seeds and plants to describe God’s Kingdom. That is because the Kingdom is alive and growing. Christian living looks much more like farming than computer programming. It is organic and unpredictable and often a little messy.
Because following Jesus is about a relationship. And to God, this is the priority. He knows, in His loving and perfect wisdom, that quick answers and formulaic approaches only fight against real following. So, He does things a different way.
It is called abiding.
It is a walking-in-the-Spirit type of travelling with Jesus that is living and personal. It is a kind of walk that winds here and there, to-and-fro, where straight lines are rarely a feature. You can’t bottle it or tame it.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. This is not a hippy-dippy kind of faith, a making-it-up-as we-go-along faith where we create God in our own image. No, this is a faith that is based on truth, deep ancient truth that is revealed to us in God’s Word and through His Son. It is a faith that values everything God values and honours everything He has said and done.
This is a principled, strong, courageous faith.
But it is not a formulaic one.
Because people and problems are complicated. There are practical issues and deeply spiritual ones. God has unique solutions for personal situations and His creativity is endless when it comes to leading and guiding us and answering our prayers. He has different callings, blessings and challenges for individuals all well as churches, ministries and families. So, don’t waste time comparing or copying.
Following Jesus isn’t a march. It’s a dance.
As I think over the last year, with all the events, both planned and unexpected, the challenges and disappointments, joys and blessings, I am grateful for a God who has been close. He has untangled messes and straightened out my thinking when it was crooked. He has met deeply private, personal needs and has spoken life to my heart when it was broken. When I have been completely out of ideas and energy and even hope He has given me His Divine wisdom and His joy as a free gift just because I asked Him for it.
He has led me, over the last year, in a joyous, unpredictable journey. We have walked through restful green pastures and shadowy valleys. And every day His truth has strengthened me, His presence has guided me and His words have sustained me.
Surely goodness and mercy will dance with me all the days of my life.