I Will Follow
Watch Chris Tomlin’s Video Here:
“Where You Go I’ll Go…”
What does it really look like to follow Jesus? What would it look like if we could really live like the words of this song suggest. For many of us, that seems to be a real mystery but something that we very much long to do.
I have a feeling that part of our problem is that we just don't quite understand how God leads. First we must remember the words of Proverbs:
The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps.(Proverbs 16:9)
Rule 1 – God’s Lead Looks Different from Our Plan
This Proverb is critical to us understanding how God will lead. We can make all the plans that we want to, but God may take us in a whole different way. I don’t know if this is true of you, but God has certainly done this in my life. I create this wonderful plan, that is logically laid out, but it doesn't come together. In hindsight, I can see that I missed a detail that was really the whole point of His mission.
A great example is found with Paul in the Book of Acts. Paul is going on his second missionary journey. The trip started out with a fight between him and Barnabas. They part ways and Paul heads North back to some of the placed that they has seen on their previous journey. (Acts 15:39 – 16:5) This is not the way Paul originally thought it was going to go.
Well, after a few nice visits Paul seems to have lost all sense of the mission and the direction:
And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. (Acts 16:6-8)
Rule 2 – There Will Be Times When It Seems Nothing is Happening
Did you catch that? They were “forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the Word in Asia.” What does that look like exactly? There is no way to really know. Was there some kind of government crackdown? Was it supernatural like literally they should not speak? We can’t really know from the text.
Put it though the filter of your our experience, however. Have there been times when you couldn’t do something, even a God thing, and you look back now and see that it was God? Well, that is exactly what Paul and his group went through.
Rule 3 – It May Look Like a Long Journey
Notice that distance on the map above. It’s not clear exactly the route the missionaries took but some estimates are that it was more than 590 miles. That would have been well over 30 days travel, mostly on foot!
Imagine the discussions they may have had, “Are you getting anything Paul?” “Has God shown you a direction?” “Nope, let's just keep going.”
That’s a lot of faith and it’s going to take faith on our part, too. There will be times when we seems like we’re just plodding along on our walk but, by faith, we know that He is leading.
The direction finally comes when they hit the coast:
And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. (Acts 16:9-10)
Rule 4 – It’s Always About People
When the direction finally comes, it’s about a man who needs the message that the team is carrying. He needs the Gospel. This too is the same in our lives. God will lead us to someone to “help”. That may be someone who needs to hear our testimony, someone who is going through something that we’ve been through, or someone who just needs to hear the message. God direction will always be toward someone.
There’s also something subtle in this passage that is another clue to this journey. Notices that the pronouns change in the first part from “they” to “we”. It seems like somewhere along this route, Luke has joined the team. That means part of this supposed “wandering” was to bring the group to connect with Luke. Once again, God’s plan was to connect them to a person.
Maybe it’s time to look at the twists and turns in life differently. Maybe we need to understand that God leads in a different way. Maybe His plan involves connecting us to someone in a way that we never would have thought of. So, if you’re seeking God’s direction, if you are singing “I Will Follow” or if you’re praying for God’s lead, don’t be surprised where He will take you.