Friday, 25 November 2011

Surprised By Jesus

Follow Jesus and if your serious about staying close, you'll soon be constantly surprised! Just when we thought God was created in our image, He does something, says something, deals with something - in ways completely other.
The problem with following Jesus closely is that it gets uncomfortable! He wants me to respond to people in surprising ways. Just when I want to hit someone - He leads me to follow Him into blessingthem with a surprise gift! Just when I want to be alone and rest - He leads me to follow Him to a lonely, weary, faith-battler and surprise them with encouragement and time. Surprisingly I feel invigorated every time I follow this Surprising Saviour. It's when I follow from a distance that I experience distance with my Saviour (just like the Apostle Peter did).
Matt. 26:58 And Peter was following him at a distance...
Just when I thought following Jesus was a walk along a tropical beach (I learned this from the famous "Footprints In The Sands" photo) - I'm surprised to discover that I must follow Him at times over jagged rocks. I can tell I'm following Him because I have to place my feet in the blood-stained footprints of my Surprising Saviour as we walk along the path of trial. Then I'm surprised when He wanders up the slopes of self-discipline and I have to choose each step I make - even though I usually don't want to. It seems like every second step up the slopes of self-discipline is lands me on a temptation. These steps flood my mind with very appealing invitations. "You're tired, skip your devotional reading can read it tomorrow." "You haven't got time to pray now, there's people waiting to see you...just pray when you get an uninterrupted minute." "Don't force your faith or beliefs on this'll be offensive." And so on.

To my shame, I have to confess, I often slip on the slopes of self-discipline. I'm surprised that my Saviour still reaches out to me at these times and admonishes me to stay close. Unlike the admonishing of others, I'm surprised that the Saviour's sharp rebuke doesn't injure me. Rather it heals me. His disciplining of me somehow surprisingly empowers me to keep climbing up the slopes of self-discipline. Then as we ascend, the Saviour begins to lead my up steps that very very personal! He challenges my diet! He challenges my hobbies! He challenges my commitment to His Cause! It seems like He makes me aware of the struggles of my brothers and sisters who are also venturing up the slopes of self-discipline. Just as I revel in my smug spiritual arrogance by feeling justified in sharing my newfound insights of the failures of others, I am surprised by my Saviour who locks eyes with me and says gently with a strength that doesn't need volume: "Love covers a brother's failings." (Prov. 10:12; 17:9; Genesis 9:23)

As I struggle up these slopes of self-discipline I am frustrated by those who seem to outpace me. But then I surprised to realise that it's not those who have been following the Saviour longest who travel up with the most ease - it's those who follow closest.
Where You go, I'll go
Where You stay, I'll stay
When You move, I'll move
I will follow...
All Your ways are good
All Your ways are sure
I will trust in You alone
Higher than my side
High above my life
I will trust in You alone
[Written by Jason Ingram, Reuben Morgan and Chris Tomlin]
Have you been surprised by the Saviour? His original disciples were. Herod was. Pilate was. James was. He is a surprising Saviour who can lead us in surprising ways, bring surprising people into our lives, and call us to surprise people with acts of undeserved kindness.
Father, we want to follow Your Saviour-Son. We want to be surprising to a world used to giving as good as it gets. Help us to follow this Surprising Saviour closer, in Jesus' Name, Amen.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ps. Andrew

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