April 19, 2014

On Following.....Lent's Ending

As Easter Sunday has approached, I've been almost mournful as I've known this season was coming to an end.  Part of me has wanted it to last forever.  I've relished in His love and sweetness and close relationship and I haven't wanted there to be an ending or a shift to what this season has looked like for me.

With these feelings, I started to wonder about the disciples and their relationship with Jesus when He was here and in ministry to and with them.  For three years, they followed Jesus around.  They ate together, fellowshipped together, learned together, traveled together, laughed and cried together.  But ultimately, Jesus came here to die and there was going to be an ending to His ministry and with that, there was going to be a shift in the very tangible relationship that He had with the twelve.

This week I read the gospel accounts of the events leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.  One of the things that struck me, was that in every gospel, just after the betrayal and arrest of Jesus, Peter followed to see what was going to happen.  Yet, it says that he followed from a distance.  He followed, but he kept out of sight.  He didn't want to be seen or even identified as a follower of Jesus, but he was nearby as the horror unfolded for his teacher and friend.  When someone called him out, He denied ever knowing Jesus and after realizing that he had denied Christ just as he was told he would, his heart broke and he left weeping.

This made me curious.  Perhaps if Peter had followed closely and stood by Jesus' side, he too would have been beaten and killed.  I'm sure he wanted to see what was going to happen to his friend.  But we see that Peter didn't enter in closely.  It's recorded and purposed in Scripture for us to know that Peter followed, but only from a distance.
This got me thinking about where my following Jesus has only been at a distance.  I can still see Him and hear Him, but I keep some kind of safe space between us.  I'm not completely present.  I could leave quickly if I needed to or if someone persuaded me.  I'm not close enough to be identified as His follower.  There are parts of me still uncertain about who He is or what exactly it is I am doing with this Jesus I follow.  I sound a lot like Peter maybe.  As I sat with these thoughts, I realized - I don't want to follow Jesus from a distance anymore.

At the end of the gospel of John, Jesus makes breakfast for Peter.  If you're unaware, Jesus not only dies, but comes back to life again (it's the best part of the whole Jesus story).  Jesus prepares a meal and shares a conversation with Peter - this same man who followed Him at a distance, denied ever knowing Christ, the one who fell asleep in the garden when Jesus needed Him the most.  Jesus and Peter share a sweet exchange of words and at the end of the passage Jesus tells him and other other disciples there, the exact same words He spoke when He first met them.

Follow Me.

And then it hit me.  It was the same invitation He spoke to my heart two months ago - Follow Me.  Jennifer - could you follow me here?

These past six weeks, the living without sodas and desserts and the sweet things I usually fill myself with, following Jesus on this journey during a season of Lent - it hasn't been about the food or my body or weight.  It's been about my heart.  It's been about where I am willing to follow Jesus, and where I am not.  This whole journey, this experience, while it has taught me that I can live without sweet things, more than anything I've seen where Jesus has cultivated in me a heart of one that truly, sincerely, deeply and intimately wants to follow Him.

Where are you following Jesus only at a distance?  Where is He asking you to follow Him to and what is holding you back from going?

Never in my life have I looked more forward to an Easter Sunday.  I'm cleaning my house, preparing food, and preparing my heart for a grand celebration.  One of remembrance of my Jesus - the One I have followed closely these last six weeks.  It is certain there will be a change and a shift as this season of Lent comes to an end, much like things shifted and ended for the disciples when Jesus was crucified and resurrected.  But it is one that I welcome.

My desire is to remain close.  To follow Jesus with all of my heart, not just pieces, and never to follow from a distance again.

No comments:

Post a Comment