Luke 9:57-62 (CEV)
57 Along the way someone said to Jesus, “I’ll go anywhere with you!”
58 Jesus said, “Foxes have dens, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man doesn’t have a place to call his own.”
59 Jesus told someone else to come with him. But the man said, “Lord, let me wait until I bury my father.”
60 Jesus answered, “Let the dead take care of the dead, while you go and tell about God’s kingdom.”
61 Then someone said to Jesus, “I want to go with you, Lord, but first let me go back and take care of things at home.”
62 Jesus answered, “Anyone who starts plowing and keeps looking back isn’t worth a thing to God’s kingdom!”
Will You Come With Me?
There is a wonderful children’s poem by A.A. Milne (the author of Winnie-The-Pooh) that I used to read to my kids when they were little. It’s called ‘Puppy and I’. In it, a little boy goes for a walk and meets up with all sorts of people and animals. In each case he asks them where they are going, and after answering his question they ask, ‘will you come with me?’ He says no to a man, a horse, a woman, and some rabbits before the final stanza:
I met a puppy as I went walking;
We got talking, puppy and I.
Where are you going on this fine day,
(I said to the puppy as he went by)
“Up to the hills to roll and play.”
“I’ll come with you, Puppy,” said I.
And this poem was the first thing that came to mind when I read this passage today.
The people Jesus runs into each have to decide whether the priorities that Jesus is setting out, and the priorities he’s rejecting are the ones that they want to follow. They have to decide whether the risks are worth the benefits; whether they are willing to accept the flak they will get from family or friends; whether the challenges and difficulties will be worth it in the end.
To the boy in our poem, there is no excitement, no interest in the priorities of the first four creatures he runs into. Bread, hay, barley and oats hold no appeal to him (although they represent many responsible choices for the man, horse, woman and rabbits). For the boy, the excitement and the possibility are found in the puppy’s invitation to roll and play. He isn’t apparently worried about soiling his clothes, completing his chores, running errands or otherwise being responsible. The boy checks out each of the other plans, gives them a fair thought, but knows that that’s not for him. When the puppy comes along, though, he has no problems saying ‘yes!’
But all of this children’s poetry business got me thinking about how we decide how to respond to Jesus. If he comes along and says, “follow me” and then follows that up by saying that it’s going to be hard; that we’re going to have to reorder our priorities; that we’re going to have to be willing to sacrifice some things that we’ve held on to pretty tight; how do we get ourselves ready to answer that kind of a question? Is it possible to prepare ourselves to say ‘yes’?
And I think that the answer to that question is absolutely.
I think we get there by having a good look at our values. Figuring out what makes us come alive. What things are we doing right now that get in our way, and what things are we doing that bring out the best of who God made us to be?
I think we get there by having a good look at what things we hold on tight to, and then asking ourselves pretty honestly how well they’re working out for us. Are they getting us closer to the kind of life we want to be living? Are they bringing us closer to love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and gentleness and faithfulness and self-control? Or do they breed fear and anxiety, anger and contradiction, or a trail of brokenness for us?
And I think we get there by getting to know Jesus really well. By listening to who he is, learning his ways, discovering where he’s heading and finding reasons to trust him.
And when we do these things, it sets us up to answer with total confidence his question for us: will you come with me?Journal Questions:
- Have you ever investigated your values? Here’s a great website to get started with, if you’re interested, or you can send us an email and I would be happy to meet with you to do this process.
- Take some time to journal the things you do in a week. Then reflect on your list. Are there things one this list that don’t fit in with your values? Are there things that you don’t want to spend time doing, but you find yourself circling back to them over and over? Are your activities bringing you closer to love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and gentleness and faithfulness and self-control? Or not?
- What things are you doing to get to know Jesus well? How well do you know who he is, how he works, where matters to him? What are you doing that is helping you to develop trust in him?