“I Want to Go with You, LORD, But …”

Jesus answered, “Anyone who starts plowing and keeps looking back isn’t worth a thing to God’s kingdom!”     Luke 9:62 (CEV)

Lectionary texts: 2 Kings 2:1-14, Psalm 77:1-20, Galatians 5:1, 13-25, Luke 9:51-62

The title and the quoted Scripture is a dead giveaway that this isn’t going to be a “Twinkie” devotion. Just remember – God puts me on the anvil and pounds away before I pass it along to you!

This passage in Luke has been troubling to me long before the lectionary gurus decided to include it in the list for this week. I would really like to hear back from some of you on whether or not your pastors or teachers used it this week. I’m thinking that most will use the Galatians passage, especially since the lectionary leaves out verses 2-12. LORD, help us to understand that all Scripture is good for teaching (2 Timothy 3:16-17)!

Jesus calls some more people to follow Him. The first one seems very gung-ho to follow Jesus “any where” but then when he hears Jesus say that He has no home and that essentially there is no earthly prosperity to this venture, he reconsiders and we do not hear from him again. Then Jesus invites the second one to follow Him but the person says he wants to bury his father first. That doesn’t seem to be a frivolous statement to me but Jesus isn’t sympathetic. “Let the dead bury the dead.” Ouch. The third person says he just needs to get his affairs in order, maybe make sure his wife and children have someone to care for them or put his manager in charge of the sheep. And Jesus comes back with the verse we began with: “If you can’t keep your focus on the Kingdom work, you aren’t worth anything!” Ouch again.

These are harsh words. Frankly I have had times in my life when I felt these very words from God. At one point I decided that being a disciple was just too hard and I would be content to be just a believer. I was going to go back to being an hour-a-week Christian and not fully commit my life to God.

2 Kings 2 This is the recounting of Elijah passing on his mantle to Elisha. I read that Elijah, the prophet who took on Jezebel’s prophets and won and then ran away in fear, has come to the end of his race. Elijah was not mentioned by name in the book of Hebrews Honor Roll of Faith but he was a prophet that served God, though not perfectly, and yet God comes in a chariot of fire to take him to heaven.

Psalm 77 This could be a song from me to God on any given day. I cry out to God. I wonder if He is listening. I wonder if He has forgotten His promises. And then I remember what He has done for me in the past. I remember how He has come to me in His power. I remember that He has answered my prayers much better than I ever prayed them, even answered when I forgot to pray!

Galatians 5 I cannot imagine why the lectionary people left out verses 2-12 except that they thought it made the passage too long and so people would get tired of standing while it was read. That is a sorry commentary on us if that is true! Those verses remind me that whatever God gives to me He does it out of His great love not because I followed the Law so perfectly. Life by the Spirit is a life that produces abundant fruit like love, joy, peace, kindness, patience, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. When I try to live this life in my own strength of my flesh, what I produce will be ugly and destructive.

And so in that season of wrestling about whether I would be a disciple or only a believer, I decided that while a disciple is a commitment and the payoff is not instantaneous – the other option is just too lukewarm and unsatisfying. With God’s help, I am going to keep following Jesus. He has proven to me already that He will take care of my family. We will live together and that makes any place a home. With God’s help, I will follow Jesus – period.

My Guy (God) written by Mary Wells and sung by the sisters of Sister Act

 

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4 Responses to “I Want to Go with You, LORD, But …”

  1. Mark Luker says:

    good read Jody….you know, I can’t think of any occasion where a church I’ve attended has ever spoke of this subject…..but I often wonder if Jesus would speak to me the same way as he spoke to these men who were concerned about their lives more than serving Jesus. I feel convicted by your words today and I like that song too! 🙂

  2. Jody Neufeld says:

    Thanks, Mark! It is one of those passages where Jesus and I will continue to talk about as we walk along His Way.

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