Welcome to another Friday and the end of a week of mixed weather and continued social distancing. I hope this reflection finds you well and plugging on in our new world of normal. I want to take you back a few years, to my time attending Seminary at Acadia. It was interesting and intense. Part of the dynamic was spending great amounts of time in the library at Acadia, doing research and studying. It was like a second home to me and many other graduate students. Part of my journey there was getting to know people at the University. One person was the head librarian, John. John was a very gracious and helpful man who was a great asset to me. Thank you John!
When you approached John and asked for his help, he had a set way of doing things. He would listen to your request and then motion you with his hand to come along and he would always say “Follow me.” Then, he would lead you to the spot you needed to go and make sure you were taken care of. What a fantastic guy.
His words reminded me of another person who asks us to “follow Him" every day. His name is Jesus. On several occasions, He beckoned His disciples and other people He was addressing to “follow Him.” Following John and following Jesus had a few things in common as I thought about it.
John always addressed your personal need. Each time you asked for help it was usually a different request that took you to a different spot. Each day, as we walk with Jesus, it is a personal walk where He addresses our needs for the day, our different joys and challenges for the future. We all share some things in common as His followers and there are some unique qualities too. Jesus 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 lights the way daily, through His word and Spirit, as He illuminates our individual paths as students/disciples of Him. Jesus, like John, always meets us where we are that day and helps us, from there, in our journey.
John always had a way of making the job so much better. It sounds crazy but, to a sometimes frustrated student wondering how you were going to overcome the task, he brought joy and hope. John was more than willing to help you, educate you and encourage you in the process. He really was a gift from God to cheer us students on. Isn’t that Jesus!?
Often times the way looks impossible or sometimes the task seems overwhelming, but Jesus is always there, bringing things into perspective. He too educates us, equips us and encourages us in the different processes of life. As Paul says in (Philippians 1:6 JBP) “I feel sure that the one who has begun his good work in you will go on developing it until the day of Jesus Christ.” As He develops us, He gives us hope - the assurance He is in control. He gives us a renewed sense of joy, a settled peace as we trust Him. Like John, in the process of following Him, Jesus changes our perspective! As the Psalmist reminds us, “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him; and he will act.” (Psalm 37:5 NIV) “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3 NIV) When I was afraid, I trusted John to help me – so too with Jesus!
John always was so gracious. I got to know John on a personal level as he audited some classes at the Divinity College. John always sat next to me in the lecture hall. I always tried to help John with questions he had and to befriend him. He was a quiet and reserved man by nature and I think he felt a little intimidated in subjects he wasn’t super familiar with like Systematic Theology. His quiet and generous spirit was, to me, a breath of fresh air at times. John taught me a lot about humility and grace. In a way, he modelled Jesus. I owe them both a great debt!
Well now you know a little more about my life and how a gentle and kind man by the name of John impacted me. His life modelled Christ in many ways and challenged me to think, again, of what it means to follow Jesus. May God help us as we take up our cross (submit to His guidance and care) each day and follow Him. (Luke 9:23)
God bless you. Have a great weekend and Lord willing see you Sunday
- Pastor Ralph