I hate roller coasters! I always have. They scare me to death. When our two sons were little, my wife Suzanne would take Ryan, our older son (who is now a Navy pilot) on the roller coaster while Toby, our younger son, and I would get ice cream! The two things that I don’t like about roller coasters are the speed and the unknown. There is a part of me that likes control. Do any of you relate to me here? I like to know where I am going and what is expected of me. Before I make a commitment, I prefer to see around the corner and down the road. But, a roller coaster forces us into an unknown world…quickly!
Following Jesus is often like riding a roller coaster! Jesus never gives us enough details. When he called his first disciples, he simply said, “Follow me.” But, he didn’t give them any details like where they’d be going or, exactly what they’d be doing, other than “fishing for people.” He gave them no job description! He didn’t mention leaving father or mother, or their nets, or boats, or anything else. He simply said, “Follow me.” Author Elizabeth O’Connor, formerly of the Church of the Savior in Washington D.C. describes the risk in following Jesus:
“Following Jesus Christ is a dangerous act! It is dangerous because you may find yourself digging with a shovel, or reading the Bible, or changing your job, or praying as you never prayed before. It is indeed dangerous, for if one becomes committed to this way, all of life will be different and every sphere of one’s existence involved in the change.” –Elizabeth O’Connor, Called to Commitment
Following Jesus was dangerous for a young medical student named Margaret for whom that meant getting up Saturday morning at 5am (on her only morning to sleep in ) to work with homeless people from 5:30am-7:30am. This adventure of working with her new homeless friends changed her life…and theirs! Over a several year period, Margaret developed a network of volunteers in New York City that helped 71 of her homeless friends to get out of homelessness and make the transition into having an apartment and a job! Getting up at 5:00 A.M. on Saturday mornings was inconvenient. She was exhausted…but, when she graduated she told her classmates that serving the homeless was the adventure of a lifetime! And it changed the way that she thought of her life as a Doctor.
This prayer of the explorer, Sir Francis Drake, in 1577 is the prayer of all those who want to follow Jesus on the adventure of the high seas…instead of staying close to the shore.
“Disturb us, Lord, when We are too well pleased with ourselves, When our dreams have come true Because we have dreamed too little…
When we have stayed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, To venture on wider seas Where storms will show your mastery; Where losing sight of land, We shall find the stars. We ask You to push back The horizons of our hopes; And to push us into the future In strength, courage, hope, and love.”
Where will following Jesus take us? We don’t know…but His promise is that He will be with us. So…fasten your seatbelts…and get ready… for the ride of your life!