When we brought our dog Maximus home with us from the shelter, I’m sure he didn’t know what to think. He was only five months old, and he shook in my lap the entire drive home. We weren’t sure if he had previous owners that didn’t want him anymore, or if he was found on the streets, (aka the hills and fields of good ‘ol Harlan County, Kentucky). It was the week of Christmas and we were pretty certain we would be getting a dog within the next few weeks, so we had already bought the essentials for our soon-to-be pup.
Once we brought him home, he quickly learned and observed that he had his own food and water bowl, crate, and toys all to himself. I still remember showing him his crate and pouring him food all while he was staring at me, tail wagging, trying to process what was happening. Fast forward just a few short weeks and he was crate trained, potty trained and comprehended that his name was Maximus. It was safe to say that he had developed a sense of, “hey these people feed me, play with me and give me belly rubs all of the time, I like them!”. Our frightened puppy was now a confident one who followed us wherever we went.
It has now been a year and a half since we have had Max and through my experiences of becoming a pet parent, I soon realized that I could learn a thing or two from him.
Sometimes I wish I had faith like Max. I wish I had so much faith in my Master that I didn’t ever hesitate or get worried about where exactly He is leading me. Now I know that concept may sound silly to some people, (that I wish my faith mimicked my dog’s faith in me), but my dog follows me almost everywhere I go without hesitation.
How much more do I owe that to God? To follow Him without hesitation, even when circumstances arise?
An obstacle Max had to overcome when we first brought him home was learning how to climb flights of stairs. Our house has many steps: stairs to walk into the house, stairs to walk up or down a level, and stairs to walk down to the back patio. At first, he would sit and cry as he glanced down and saw the obstacle before him. Eventually, we had to lead him with a leash up and down the stairs. Once he mastered one set of stairs we had to lead him up and down the others, because no two sets of stairs are the same ‘ya know!
A passage in the Bible that comes to mind when thinking of this story is when Peter tries to walk on water but because he started to focus on what was going on around him, it caused him to lose faith and he started to sink.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
Matthew 14:29-31 (NIV)
Maybe we aren’t called to necessarily walk on water and we’ve already mastered the stairs, but there have been many times in my life when things come up and I start to worry and try to solve things myself. Suddenly I leave God out as if He doesn’t already know what is going on in my life and that He doesn’t know how the situation is going to turn around. However, God does know everything about our situation, and He already knows what the outcome is going to be.
I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes it is scary to sit back, pray and trust that God has everything under control. Worry can suddenly become an attempt to solve and cope with a problem. In a weird way, it can feel like we have control over the situation if we worry.
Having the faith to follow God requires trusting in Him. Even if it means we are going to have to do something we don’t want to do or it’s going to cost us something. Worry does not come from God, but instead the enemy. The bible tells us the following about worry:
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.“
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
If you are a believer reading this you probably already know there is so much more we are commanded to do than just have faith. We are told we must follow, and how can we do that if we don’t have faith in where He is leading us?
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
Luke 9:23 (NIV)
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
John 8:12 (NIV)
Jesus doesn’t say follow your friends, follow celebrities, not even follow your heart. Instead, He instructs us to follow Him.
If we as Christians haven’t completely surrendered our hearts, lives, and will to Christ, it’s probably because of fear and a lack of faith. We tend to follow what we have faith in, and sometimes that can be someone we look up to other than Jesus, or sometimes ourselves.
So what does following Christ truly look like?
It’s often easier said than done, but we need to have faith that God’s will and plan for our lives is better than what we could ever do with our lives on our own. If you aren’t sure if you are truly following Christ, then maybe ask yourself if you have been seeking His will and have been seeking the Holy Spirit to guide you throughout your day.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
I pray that as we continue to live this life, that we truly seek God through it all. In the good times it is always easy to praise and follow Him, but what does it say about our faith when we encounter trials in this life and put God on the back burner?