Alyssa Cable is a 19-year-old from Johnstown, Pa. currently in her junior year Eastern Mennonite University majoring in Elementary Education. Mennonite Church USA is a big part of Alyssa’s heart and she is so excited to be blogging about Convention. She loves writing, playing guitar and piano, and laughing. She is a member of a team of bloggers writing and reflecting each week on the convention theme.
The hymn “I have decided to follow Jesus” strikes something within me every time I hear it. I don’t think it’s the part about deciding to follow Him; I think it’s the part about “no turning back.” I don’t believe it’s the idea that though “none go with me”, but it’s the permanence of “still I will follow.” It has nothing to do with the “world behind me”, but everything to do with “the cross before me.” Those words are so powerful and so present as we decide to follow Jesus, singing those lyrics and making their meaning concrete.
I often think about how the disciples simply left their families, left their fishing boats and nets, left their jobs, homes, and friends, to follow some guy they didn’t really know to places they had never really been to speak to people they had never met. I’m sure more thought went into the process of actually leaving and following Jesus, but the Bible makes it pretty clear that it was just that simple. The disciples had changed. They were still fishers, but fishers of men.
Obviously, Jesus isn’t physically here on Earth anymore so we don’t literally need to follow Him. However, what if the meaning was still that literal? What if I put down my make-up brushes, removed my soccer cleats, gave my money away, quit college, sold my TV, and tore up my March Madness bracket literally to just follow Jesus? What if following Him today meant giving Him my whole life?
We just came through the season of Lent. The time where we are in the midst of giving up something that is of value to us, until Easter, when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. If any of you are like me, you say you’ll give up sweets, and a few days in, your cravings take over and chocolate enters your mouth. I used to consider Lent as a time that emphasized how terrible I am at setting resolutions and goals, and a time when I was filled with guilt every time a piece of chocolate came my way. However, I understand now that Lent represents purposefully taking away something in our lives in order to give Jesus a little more room, to prepare our hearts for the Holy Week we are taking part in.
So what if Lent was more than six weeks long? What if our entire lives were devoted to constantly finding and removing the thing that was blocking Jesus out?
As you prepare for Convention this coming summer, (Yes, that’s right, in only a few short months!) and we are preparing our hearts (and our bags!) for the wonderful week in Phoenix, I challenge you all to make Lent a daily thing. That could mean changing something you give up daily or finding something that is completely overshadowing God in your life and working on it throughout the coming months. I realize that prioritizing God time is a hard concept for me between balancing school, work, friends, and everything else in between. But this also hinders my relationship with God. So, no, I won’t be giving up homework, but I will be giving God more time out of my day. The disciples gave up their lives, their “normal”, their everything, to follow Him. I can give Him my full attention for a little time each day. I can give Him my life – and still be living it!
That’s what it means to follow Jesus. See you in Phoenix!