Line Up

10/09/2009

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Mark 8:34

My wife Karen just started her fourth year of teaching preschool and has come to this conclusion: children are not born with the ability or instinct to walk in a line! Each year, she sets out to train the new students how to form a line and then move as a part of one. And each year the results are disastrous.

Karen has tried everything--holding a rope just creates a sidewinder snake. Reaching out freshly-stamped right hands to maintain contact with a wall fails due to a fear of being passed on the left. Attempts to concentrate on the person in front of you lasts about as long as a cookie at snack time. Rotating "line leaders" every day also creates dischord because once a child has tasted the power of being the first kid in line behind the teacher, he or she is not content to be second, fifth, or thirteenth ever again. Some middle-of-the-pack hikers will even lag behind enough to create a second line so that they can be in the front of that!

It doesn't appear to be in our nature to follow someone. Animals don't seem to have a problem, do they? Ducklings, baby elephants...walking in a line doesn't seem to create a significant issue for them.

When Christ approached a couple of stinky fishermen and a nest-feathering tax collector, he didn't preach to them, describe his mission and incarnation, or attempt to persuade them in any way. He just said, "follow me." Amazingly, they jumped up and did just that, leaving everything they'd ever known.

Consistently following Christ--or indeed anything--is hard for the rest of us. Like children, it goes against our nature to let someone else lead and to focus our attention on him instead of ourselves. What are we afraid that we'll miss by being in the back, anyway? After several days the kids know the hallway pretty well, yet they still rush ahead. And so it is with us, even though we know that Christ is going to invert the line anyway: "the last will be first, and the first will be last." (Matt 20:16)

Sometimes it takes a month for Karen's kids to get the hang of it and sometimes it takes several months. But by the time they start school the next year they are all able to walk in a line. Learning to be a Christ-follower takes a lot longer than that, but it can be done. Christian pastor/author John Ortberg reminds us that "if you want to follow someone, you can't go faster than the one who is leading."

Focus your attention on the one at the head of the line and then follow Him like your life depends on it--because it does!
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There are 4 comments

What a great metaphor! Gives me a good visual image. I wish I would quit trying to be line leader.

Dianne
October 10, 2009 - 07:16

Kent, You have a really wonderful way of putting words together. Your Devotionals are always inspiring. Thanks.

Betty Lull
October 09, 2009 - 18:11
Reply to Betty Lull

Betty, I'm very glad that they speak to you. I think God is ready and waiting to breathe extra life into all of our humble attempts to serve Him, whatever they might be. To Him be the glory!

Kent
October 09, 2009 - 23:06

Well done

Karen
October 09, 2009 - 14:01
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