My husband and I listen as the newlyweds lay out their plans for the future. How they want to be in ministry, have children, attend higher schools of learning. A three-year plan for blissful happiness detailing the month and year when each of their children will enter the world.

And though the breathe of our experience as a couple fell under ten years at the time of that coffee conversation, I couldn’t help but chuckle on the inside. Because following Christ and finding fulfillment isn’t really about our well- laid plans written in our daily planner. 

In my experience, it has been just the opposite.

It starts with a niggle. The town crier ringing the bell of my heart, declaring change is coming. Prepare! Then he reveals hints to the plot and the mystery, spoken in the romance of detail, turning each page that is my story. The unfolding love story between my Savior and me.  A story that grows in the soil of intimate conversation, cultivates a readiness to change.

And this kind of love, it opens the heart wide to accept the cost. The cost to follow Jesus. Because there is a cost, you know?

Jesus spells it out on the journey to Jerusalem (Luke 9:57-62), walking through hostile Samaria where his reputation isn’t exactly one of a rock star.  When he encounters a man that declares, I will follow you wherever you go, Jesus sheds light on what that entails.

He lets him know they won’t sleep in five-star hotels, eat eggs benedict for breakfast, or be welcomed by strangers. In fact, they may not sleep in a bed at all.

We never hear of that man again.

Meanwhile, when Jesus asks another to follow Him along the road, the man agrees  . . . with conditions.

That man? We never hear of him again either.

Then a third stranger along the road declares his allegiance to follow, right after he checks off his to-do list.  The grocery lists, house cleaning, meal preparation, volunteer commitments.

Jesus keeps walking, no looking back. He leaves those guys with good intentions in the dust he kicks up from the sandals on his feet. Let’s them attend to their agendas and routines, while He continues to make imprints along the dusty road to destiny, thinking about what He will do for us all along the way.

And when I think about how I justify my own spiritual journey, the way I spend my time,  I learn that the word justify means to show oneself righteous as he wishes to be and I feel naked. Like I want to crawl under a table and hide or lay prostrate asking Him to forgive me.

The faces of those strangers Jesus met on the road, they look like mine.

Jesus holds the map to our journey, knows the best way to get there. Highlights the road, the best places to stay, decides how long we stay in each place, who he wants us to meet,  and what we will do while we stay there.

And when the trip is a success, we see fruit in relationships, find our place in community, feel the joy of transformation, receive favor among the noble voices, He reminds us of who we are. That fulfillment in life doesn’t come from what we do – our place in society, the well-checked list, the neighborhood garden of hospitality that feeds longing souls – it lies simply in who we are in Christ.

The best laid plans to reach fulfillment? They’re in the whisper of His voice leading from the map in His hands, with the giant heading at the top: Follow Me!  

What keeps you from following Him?

Today’s post inspired by the book Tell it Slant by Eugene Peterson and cultivated by teaching and conversation among a small group of women seeking to follow Jesus.

Counting gifts with Ann, won’t you join me by leaving a celebration of thanks today in the comment box?

  • This warm weather, that makes the heart sing like spring.
  • Blooms early on the Lenten rose, a promise of renewal after winter’s chill.
  • Early morning sun illuminating foliage.
  • Words of transformation and comfort in the comment box like a whisper from God, yes, you did hear me when you wrote that.
  • The promise of an anniversary trip to England.
  • Satisying dinner and hearty conversation with H, time out for just the two of us.
  • Chatty conversations and laughter with my girl.
  • Divine appointments, yes they’re the best.

Linking with Jen and Shanda on Tuesday!