Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mark 1: 16-20

Walk before me ... Follow me

Late tomatoes ripening inside. Toy Box Suburban Farm
A journey of faith. My legs felt like lead was slugging through my veins instead of blood. Ten more steps, then I can stop if I want to. One; the tiny day pack was hot on my back. Two; just up to the next switch-back and then you can rest if you want to. Three; every step was a climb. Every thought was on moving forward one more step. Mount Pilchuck in Robe Valley is not very tall. The trail to the Fire Lookout is only two miles long and gains only 2,000 feet of altitude from the old ski lodge parking lot. People bring their toddlers up this cattle run of a path. But here I was struggling to not give up. At 9:30 AM fellow hikers were already coming back down the trail, encouraging me, you are almost there, keep going. When I finally reached the base of the old Fire Look Out I could see that the building sat on top of a tall stack of boulders that I would need to scramble to get to the Look Out. NO WAY. I can hardly put one foot in front of the other, I cannot scramble up 20 feet of boulders. That is when Hans and Frans showed up.

I do not know their actual names. To my untrained ears their accent was Austrian  They wore white tee shirts and white shorts. There was not a drop of sweat on either of them. With voices that sounded like the former governor of California, they told me I could not stop here I had to go to the top! As I attempted to wave them off with what I hoped was a smile, Frans slipped the day pack from my shoulders and stepped up the the first bolder. His foot was level with my head. When he reached out for my hand I gave it to him and was nearly lifted up on the bolder. Hans kept placing my feet in secure positions. I did not have time to die of embarrassment. I was at the top and they were gone as fast as they showed up.

Faith is a journey up a steep and narrow path.There are different companions along the way, there is encouragement by strangers who are really fellow pilgrims. There is dramatic help when you feel like you have nothing left. But for the most part, it is one foot in front of the other.

And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen.  And Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men."  And immediately they left their nets and followed him.  And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zeb'edee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets.  And immediately he called them; and they left their father Zeb'edee in the boat with the hired servants, and followed him.   Mark 1:16-20  RSV
It seems that "in the beginning" the walk of faith was meant to be an easy stroll through the garden. YHVH/God walked with Adam in the cool of the day. That didn't last. King David of Israel wrote that his walk of faith was a walk through the valley of the shadow of death. (Psalm 23) Y'shua/Jesus spoke of a narrow, hard way (Mathew 7 :13-14). Whatever description is given to the path, it starts with an invitation. Abram was told to "walk before Me" (Genesis 17:1) In our passage, four men are invited to "follow Me" (Y'shua)" on their faith journey. With very little drama, they begin. We are filled with questions about their families, their work, even why they suddenly decided to follow this man. But the bottom line is that they began their journey of faith. Did they know how hard it would be? Did they know that there would be times when they wanted to give up or did they keep their eyes on the goal and keep putting one foot in front of the other? If you have read their testimony you know how the journey ends. You have read of triumph and difficulty, very much like you encounter in your journey of faith.

Speaking of our journey, how do we follow Y'shua whom we cannot see? First, we have the Spirit of God.
John 14:26  But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
John 15:26-27  But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me;  and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning. 
John 20:21-22  Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you."  And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. RSV
We also have the fellowship of fellow pilgrims on the path. Paul encouraged us to, "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ." 1 Corinthians 11:1 

Heb 10:23-25 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful;  and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. 
If you choose to follow Y'shua/Jesus, you will be on the journey of your life. No one will carry you even though we are here to encourage you. There is great reward. It is the joy of YHVH that gives us strength. There is help along the way but you are the one who must choose to follow. You are the one who has to decide to take just a few more steps when you feel as if you cannot take even one more step. The view is amazing, the fellowship and the joy are beyond description. But the love of the Lord is the prize that keeps me going.

Repent, believe and face what comes with faith.
MsH 10/30/12

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