Follow the Leader

This question for God comes on the heels of a milestone birthday. I just celebrated 40 years around the sun! Bring on the fabulous forties.

People have been asking me, "how are you feeling about entering the next decade?"

My response has been the same: It's about time my age caught up with my face!

I had an interesting talk with myself the other day while blow-drying my hair. Some of my best alone time happens in front of the mirror. I thought back to my 30th birthday and where I was ten years ago. My son wasn't born; I was knee-deep in toddler mom life with my daughter; we had just moved into our house the year before and joined a small church that would be our family for years to come. So much life happened in this decade. After the brief trip down memory lane, I couldn't help but wonder about the next ten years.

As my thoughts shifted forward, I asked myself: Am I where God wants me to be right now? Am I fulfilling my purpose?

Perhaps you have asked yourself these questions recently. It came up twice when I asked for Questions, so it must be a popular one. In the last post, I wrote about what we should be doing right now. This question falls in the same vein. It is only natural to wonder why God has us here, and we are coming through on His mission for us. But how do we know if we are walking the path that is laid out before us?

There is a scene in John 21, where post-resurrected Jesus interacts with Peter.

Jesus said, "18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!
20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is going to betray you?") 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?"
22 Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." 23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?"

As I read through it, two things stuck out:
  1. Jesus reminds us that as we get older, things don't get easier.
  2. Looking backward at others won't get us closer to Him.

Jesus tells Peter that life will get more challenging for him. It's okay, though. Follow Him.

Jesus tells Peter that no matter what others are doing, it doesn't matter. Follow Him.

You can't change the fact that you are getting older, hard as you may try. Your life will not get easier as your body slowly fails or your children grow. Worries will become different, and the world around will continue to decay. People will do what they do despite your existence, whether it be for the glory of God or not. Hope is not found in any of these things.

Your purpose is clear: Follow Him. Follow Him at all costs. When you place your feet in step with Him, He will show you the way. He will direct you exactly where you need to go. When you are near Him, you can't help but fulfill your purpose. Rest easy in that, my friend.

  1. Ask a different question. When you begin to wonder if you are doing what you are called to do, pause and ask yourself, "am I spending time seeking after Jesus?" If the answer is yes, then you are right where you need to be. If not, what steps can you take to be with Him right now?
  2. Stop looking back. While it is true that we can learn from our past, I think people get stuck there. You can't go back and relive or change the past. You can choose right now to move forward and live a life following Him.
  3. Crack open that Good Book. The best way to know where Jesus is going is by reading where He's been. This may seem counterintuitive to #2, except that the Bible is living and active. Remember that His name is also "The Word." Jesus's life may be written in the past, but His Word is living right now.

*If you have a birthday coming up or need to buy a unique gift for someone special, check out this digital print:

I recommend printing it off at walgreens or costco in a matte finish. You get both 8x10 and 5x7 prints. It's a simple way to remind somone (or yourself) where Hope is found.


JL McCarthy

April 13, 2021