My ten year-old son is growing and trying out his wings on new tasks. We were bicycling one of our favorite trails and he thoroughly surprised me by his departure speed and attack. He has suggested this trail and any assumption that he was comfortable was elementary. I only needed to follow. I assumed that it would be gravy. It was. I was free to daydream and enjoy the ride. It then occurred to me that this experience turned metaphor needed exploration.
In business, nonprofit ventures, government, sports even the church, there is no end to talk about leadership. Rightly so, but the corresponding wisdom says that one must master following before attempting to lead. Did you notice the hailstorm of consternation caught by Peter and John [“the sons of thunder”] when they and their (stage) mother decided to approach Jesus in an effort to heighten their stature in the Kingdom? It didn’t work out well.
I found myself pushing to keep up with the kid, and though the trail would be ranked easy, there are blind spots and curves. I know I can sprint by him at any time, but that’s really not the point.
Let’s whittle the metaphor a bit more. We are following but we are easily bogged down by details. We have spats with the rest of the herd. We get prideful and stubborn. We want to do things our own way.
Jesus said “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” [John 10:27]. He said that knowing that we would hear him and need to follow even though we wouldn’t see him. He knew that we would need to follow even though we were slothful, self-indulgent or even disobedient.
A very popular song says we’re “Chasing after you” and perhaps that’s the most laudable goal. Striving to follow and learning the rigor. By the way, He will leave 99 sheep to come after you – so hang in there . . .