If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor. John 12:26
One of the real thrills for tourists in Rome is a visit to the catacombs. These are underground passages with recesses dug out for coffins and tombs. An almost endless series of tunnels connects the different rooms and sections. What a maze of turns and twists, ups and downs, backward and forward. Only an experienced guide could possibly find his way.
Visitors to the catacombs are conducted through the passageways in groups. Each one is given a long thin candle to light his or her way in the darkness. All are warned to stay close to the guide. Separation from the leader of the group or a wrong turn by an individual might end in a catastrophe.
Life is often such a journey. It can be very confusing at times and difficult to know just what to do. We hear people say, “I don’t know which way to turn.” Yet this feeling of confusion need not apply to Christians, for our God “will be our guide even to death” (Psalm 48:14). God’s promise is that “your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:21).
When the Lord Jesus Christ called His disciples to follow Him, He promised to guide and direct them. “Then He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men’ ” (Matthew 4:19). “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’ ” (John 14:6). Christ is willing to lead each of us all through life. It is up to us to follow Him. We simply need to stay close behind Him and keep watching Him.
When the Lord Jesus called His disciples to follow Him, they left their fishing nets and went right along after Him (see Matthew 4:18-20). Of course, we cannot follow Christ in the same way as the disciples did, for we do not see Him in person here on Earth. So what does it mean for us to follow Christ and His plan for our lives?
FOLLOW THE LEADER
Actually, we follow Christ in a spiritual way by observing the same principles that apply to being a good follower of any leader.
First, we stay behind Christ and allow Him to lead us. Sometimes, Christians do not wait for the Lord to show them what to do. They go ahead with their own plans and then expect the Lord to bless them. Are they following Christ? The Bible tells us that we must follow Christ if we would be His disciples (see Luke 14:27).
Christians are those who truly try to follow in Christ’s way. They study the Word so that they might know God’s will. They may not succeed as well as they would like, but they nonetheless press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (see Philippians 3:14).
As a follower of Christ, you will often come short of what we aim to do or be. Do not be discouraged if you are not perfect. Christ knows your heart. He knows if you are trying faithfully to follow Him. Be careful not to compare yourselves to other people (see 2 Corinthians 10:12). Do not follow a human pattern, but be “imitators of God as dear children” (Ephesians 5:1).
One day, General Robert E. Lee stepped out the front door of his home. Snow had just left a fresh blanket over the earth. He took great strides, leaving an impression in the white snow with his huge military boots. A little voice behind him said, “Daddy, take shorter steps. I’m following you.” Lee looked around to see his little four-year-old boy trying to stretch his short legs and make his feet fit into the very prints that the general had just made.
Even though you do not realize it, others may be following you closely and imitating all that you do. Surely this should be a challenge for you to follow Christ so closely that if others follow you, they will never be led astray.
Second, we keep our eyes focused on Christ. One characteristic of sheep is their tendency to follow the one just ahead. When sheep are being led along and the attention of one is diverted so that he strays off the path, all the sheep behind him will follow him instead of the leader.
People are often like sheep in this respect. Isaiah 53:6 says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Christians must keep looking unto Jesus and not be diverted by the actions of anyone else.
How can we keep our eyes on Christ? By studying God’s Word and speaking to the Lord in prayer. It is important that we never lose sight of the One who is our leader. We cannot expect to keep our eyes on the Lord Jesus if we never follow His directions or take time to look unto Him.
Third, we stay close to Christ. A group of young people was visiting Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. As they started through the great cave, the guide mounted a rock called “The Pulpit” and said he would preach a sermon. This was it: “Keep close to your guide.” It was a short sermon, but it was a practical one. The party soon found that, like the tourists in the Roman catacombs, if they did not keep close to the guide, he would certainly be lost in the midst of so many dark pits, precipices and tunnels.
There was an old captain who was called upon to pilot seagoing vessels safely into a very dangerous harbor. He never failed. He always missed the shoals and the rocks. He was asked one time how he knew just how to point the ship. He said, “Do you see that buoy ahead? Now look on and you will see a white post. Look still farther and there’s the light from the lighthouse. I cannot go by any of them. No one is sufficient in itself, but when all three are in a straight line, it gives me my direction and I bring my boat safely into the harbor.”
When the Word of God, the voice of the Holy Spirit whom Christ has given to be our guide, and the circumstances about us are all in accord, it is then safe for us to say that God is speaking, and we can follow in that path.
THE REWARD OF FOLLOWING GOD’S PLAN
The Bible is filled with true-life stories of men and women. In every case, those who obeyed God and followed His plan were blessed, while those who did not obey were punished. Unfortunately, the punishment for disobedience often affected others. Disobedience to God is sin.
Adam and Eve are known for their outright disobedience to God. What was the result of their sinfulness? “By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners” (Romans 5:19). “Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).
Children often fret around and whine when their father or mother tells them that they do not want them to do something. They often say that they don’t see why they can’t do it, but down in their heart, they really know that what their parents say is best. Sometimes, parents will let their children have their own way because they tease and urge, but we all know from experience that the best results usually come from obedience to our parents.
Occasionally parents may make a mistake, but most of the time they are right. God never makes a mistake in guiding us in His plan for our lives. We can always depend on Him, for His way is perfect (see Psalm 18:30). We may not understand why He guides us in certain ways, but we can be sure that He knows how everything will work out. We can trust our heavenly Father at all times.
God promises that those who obey Him shall have good success (see Joshua 1:8). Christ said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). How important it is to obey God!
Abraham obeyed God even when he knew nothing about the land to which God sent him. When God told him to leave his home and his people, Abraham obeyed, not knowing whither he went (see Genesis 12:1-4; Hebrews 11:8).
How could one man lead out hundreds of thousands of men, women and children from slavery under a great Pharaoh? Moses accomplished this tremendous task when he acted in obedience to God’s plan (see Exodus 3:1–14:31). How could Joshua take the high walled city of Jericho with only seven trumpets made of rams’ horns? When he obeyed God, the walls of Jericho fell flat (see Joshua 6:1-20). How could Gideon with his small band of 300 men, with torches and pitchers, rout such a great army? This seems impossible to us, but when Gideon obeyed God, the great host of Midianites fled in confusion (see Judges 7:7-21).
Remember, God always keeps His promises. He will never fail to do His part. If we want to derive the benefit of God’s promises, it is up to us to do our part. To know God’s Word and obey it is the challenge that the Lord gives to His people, “For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8).
OBEDIENCE IS HARD
It is true that you cannot live a life of power and obedience at the same time. It is hard to give in and do what someone else wants you to do. From the time you were a baby, you have always wanted your own way. Everyone does. It takes time and discipline to teach obedience. How, then, can we accept God’s challenge to learn to obey Him and follow His plan?
The answer comes from the fact that Christ does not expect us to do it alone. He has provided help. He has promised that He will live in us. Paul said, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Yet because Christ lived within him, Paul could add, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Hand your life to Christ and let Him live in you. He will help you to follow Him. God has also provided the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. Christ said, “He abides with you and will be in you” (John 14:17).
You can learn God’s will through study of the Bible and through prayer, and then through the empowering of Christ and the Holy Spirit, you can have the strength to do that which you know God wants you to do. Do not depend upon yourself; your own efforts will always fail. Rest in the Lord and know that He has said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
THE RESULTS OF FOLLOWING GOD’S PLAN
A man was walking near a building one day and saw a stonecutter chiseling patiently upon a block of stone in front of him. “Are you still chiseling?” remarked the gentleman pleasantly as he went up to the stonecutter. “Yes, still chiseling,” replied the workman as he went on with his work. “To what part of the building does this stone belong?” asked the gentleman. “I don’t know,” replied the stonecutter. “My job is to cut the stones. The architect knows where each one will go.” He then went on chiseling, chiseling, chiseling.
As Christians, that is what we should do. We may not see the plan of the Master Architect above, but each of us has our work to do and we should keep at it until it is done. We must follow the directions that the Lord has given us so that our work will fit into His perfect plan.
With Christ’s challenge, “Follow Me,” He promises that those who do will become “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). We follow Christ in order that others may be brought to Him. What a privilege this is! Proverbs 11:30 says, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.”
Caleb, in the Old Testament, wholly followed the Lord, and as a reward he was given all the land his feet trod upon (see Joshua 14:9).
Those of us who follow God’s plan receive many rich and bountiful blessings. We experience joy, peace, confidence, success and, best of all, the commendation of our Lord.
Here are the three related articles excerpted from the eBook God’s Plan by Henrietta Mears…
Henrietta Mears (1890 to 1963) was one of the great Bible teachers of the 20th century. While she served as Christian Education Director at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, she built one of the largest Sunday Schools in the world and wrote curriculum that was in such high demand that to publish it, she founded Gospel Light in 1933. Such notable Christian leaders as Richard C. Halverson, Luis Evans, Jr. and Bill Bright were among her students. Billy Graham said of Dr. Mears, “Her enthusiasm for the Lord Jesus Christ was contagious.”
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