This is not the blog i intended to post this week. We’ll save that one for another day. But this morning i read a statement by Henry Blackaby: “Are you willing to follow Jesus anywhere, at any time, under any condition?”
On Monday morning two good friends awoke together, just as they had for over thirty-five years of Monday mornings. They probably walked through their typical morning routines then headed off in their respective directions as they followed Jesus in pursuit of all that was in store for the day. Little did they know the turns the day would take. Little did they know that it would be their last morning to wake up beside each other. Little did they know that a sudden heart attack would usher Kim into the presence of her Heavenly Father. Little did D. Ray know that he would be left to continue in the journey without his wife and best friend beside him. Little did their children and grandchildren know that their lives forever would be changed. Gratefully, theirs is not a sorrow without hope. They know that Kim immediately stepped into the presence of Jesus and is together with loved ones who have gone before her. Her husband and family know that they will one day be reunited with her. So, it’s not a “forever goodbye”; it’s a “goodbye until we are together again”. But, nonetheless, it is a goodbye filled with shock, sorrow and grief.
There is much to remember with fondness and gladness in a life well-lived following Jesus. There are countless moments of laughter and joy that will forever remain in the lives and hearts of all that remain – family and friends alike. There are also those memories of shared sadness and difficulty. The operative word is “shared” – the product of living life together following Jesus. In the days to come, social media will be filled with memories recounted, as countless friends share their hearts full of sadness mixed with the joy of those memories. But allow me to take a moment to ponder the question that Dr. Blackaby posed – and Kim lived out so well – are you willing to follow Jesus anywhere, at any time, under any condition?
We all know that our God is sovereign. He is the Supreme Authority. Nothing occurs that He does not permit. His power is without limit. His strength cannot be restrained. His knowing and understanding is boundless and beyond our comprehension. His attention to every detail is unrestricted. His authority is absolute. He is the Creator of life. He is NOT the creator of death, but He is the Conqueror of death. But in His sovereignty, He has permitted it for a season – a season that He will one day bring to an end. There is nothing in our lives that He is not sovereign over.
The writer of Proverbs reminded us that we “do not know what a day may bring” (Proverbs 27:1 ESV). Jesus Himself reminded us that the events of the future are not for us to know (Acts 1:7). But the Father who knows all things has given us His Son to follow in all things and through all things. He has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us in the journey (Hebrews 13:5). He will never cast us aside (John 6:37). He will give us His strength to walk through and accomplish all that is before us (Philippians 4:13). And where we lack the strength or the understanding, He will grant us His grace which He promises will be sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). And we can walk confidently in His promise that He will ultimately cause everything to work together for good according to His purpose and for His glory (Romans 8:28). We do not know what lies ahead. We do not know what is just around the corner. We have no idea what will transpire in the next moment of time. And we do not know the conditions that we will face as we continue to follow Him. But we do know that if we follow Him, He will be right there with us each and every step of the way.
Please allow me to take one quick side road: Too often we make the mistake of trying to plot our own way. Then we ask Jesus to bless our way and go with us. We mistakenly attempt to turn the tables and ask Jesus to follow us. How foolish can we be? The One who knows what is ahead and is able to overcome whatever it is, has invited us to follow Him. Only the blindness and madness of sin could ever cause us to want Him to follow us!
As i close out these thoughts, i have two requests of you. First, please lift up my brother in Christ – D. Ray – and the entire Davis family as they follow – and hold onto – Jesus through these difficult days. Stand with them, interceding like Aaron and Hur, and uplifting them in prayer. Second, ask God through the power of His Holy Spirit to draw you and keep you in the place that you follow Jesus anywhere, at any time, and under any condition – no matter what day it is. As you do, you will be able to walk confidently knowing:
“The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
Though they stumble, they will not fall,
For the Lord holds them by the hand.”
(Psalm 37:23-24 NLT)