The buzz around our church family lately has been the choice of one word for 2014 that will help us stay focused in our walk throughout the year. It has been a process that has been fun and enlightening and in the end I believe has made us all reflect on our personal lives in one way or another.
My choice for the year is FOLLOW. Not because I loved the book Not A Fan by Kyle Idleman but the verse that his book was built on.
Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23
The journey that Jules and I have been on over the last four years has been as much driven by us as it has been by God. Don’t get me wrong, God has always been there but we have had our hands in the pot mixing things up a bit by trying to guide our lives in how we think God would want us to or staying too busy to hear His voice speak to us. As a matter of fact, we stayed so busy trying to serve and be busy for God that we began to lose the strength of our own salvation and ultimately we began to lose each other. Being a servant and doing good works was what we thought obedience meant.
We had an acoustical duo called Faith Passage and we created In Our Own Backyard, a food ministry supporting local ministries and churches. We were trying to lead worship at any opportunity that was presented to us, helped in the early stages of a church plant, and began to manage a large volunteer group for a local street ministry. We were always on the go for God but what I now can reflect back on was that my personal relationship with Christ was not on the go. Matter of fact, it really didn’t get the attention it deserved. God deserved. I didn’t need works to make God love me or us. He already does. I believe that He wants sincerity in our obedience and our willingness to follow Him. Not me meeting an agenda or completing a checklist.
When Jules and I decided to marry, we were met with great skepticism because we believed the Spirit was pulling on our hearts to throttle back all the busyness as well as our social networking activities that felt like a part time job in itself. How could just stop doing work for God? Are we really doing the right thing? Is the Spirit really telling us to slow down. Looking back on 2013, the answer is YES. Through our commitment to our covenant, disciplined study of the Word, devotionals, and focusing on life’s challenges and how to handle them in a Godly manner it has begun to teach us to follow, not lead. To be obedient. It has become a real relationship with Jesus Christ. It has manifested real relationships.
The verse says to turn from my selfish ways. To not do things for my pleasure or enjoyment or to even gloat about what I have done for God. To place my needs second at all costs and at any opportunity. It is never about a performance for God and He doesn’t want to watch our show. Just because I have a word to reflect on will not prevent the fleshly desires that I will fight throughout 2014 to place ‘me’ first but it will at times make me stop in my tracks and ponder the following…
take up your cross daily and follow me.