Following Jesus Requires Persistence

Herbs still have a special place in my gardener’s heart. I love to grow them both for their medicinal qualities and their taste in teas. 

One of my favorite activities is growing perennial herbs. The thing I like best about these herbs is no matter how many times I cut them back, they just keep sprouting again and producing lush leaves for another cutting. My current favorite is lemon balm. Here in north Georgia, it is so persistent I can make 4 or 5 cuttings every summer. When it first starts to put on side shoots for flowers, I cut the plants back to the ground and dry the leaves for tea. New growth appears in a few weeks, and a few weeks after that, it’s harvest time again. 

This is a lot like our lives. The Lord seems to give us a new idea and we try our best to bring it to reality, but so often when it looks like we’ll finally get it to work and bear fruit, something happens to end that cycle. We feel like we’ve been cut off at the root and wonder if we really were following the Lord, or if we misunderstood His will. Do we have as much perseverance as lemon balm when we know we are following Jesus? The lemon balm is so tough it can grow under trees, survive droughts, and has few pests that bother it. Mine has persevered and kept on producing in spite of every adversity it’s met. Are we that determined when we are following Jesus?

The Bible says in Ephesians 6:18, “…Be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” 

We are to pray and not give up: follow close to know His will. James 1:4 says, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” That’s our goal: to keep praying, following, and persevering until God does his work in us and we are complete, lacking nothing and ready to bear fruit. Never give up. Keep following Jesus.

It’s our choice whether we keep looking for new ways the Holy Spirit is bringing fruitful growth to our lives, or if we give up and quit following. What is your choice going to be?

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Following Jesus

Fear of following even a trusted leader into uncharted territory is universal among animals, even ducklings. A video on the internet showed a mother duck and her large clutch of unfledged ducklings. The mother duck waddled to the middle of an arched bridge and jumped into a pond. She quacked for her ducklings. Nothing happened. She called again and one brave duckling jumped off with his tiny, unfeathered wings barely able to slow his fall. He landed with a plop and swam to his mother. Soon the other ducklings plunged off in twos and threes until only the most timid duckling was left on the bridge. It ran from one end of the bridge to the other without finding a place to jump. The mother kept calling until the duckling jumped.

 Following Jesus is no easy matter, either, even if calling oneself a “Christ Follower” is becoming the new way to say, “I’m a Christian.” Fear of the unknown can be very real and even paralyzing when we start giving up control of our lives to simply follow where Jesus leads. However, this kind of deliberately giving up control is necessary to find the peace and comfort God promises us. Exactly what does it look like to follow this way? I’d like to propose that it can look like many different things. 

All the ducklings obeyed in different ways. Obedience means trusting the Lord and doing what He says even when it looks like you’re jumping into a void. If you know you’re in God’s will, it means staying the course even when everything goes wrong and the results look disastrous. We’re born with different levels of boldness, but if we’re following Jesus, God expects us to step out on faith when He calls. 

To obey is better than sacrifice. 1 Samuel 15:22 

What kind of “duckling” are you? Are you one of the brave few who step off the bridge at the Holy Spirit’s first call, the majority who need a partner for courage even after the step is proven safe, or the recalcitrant one who only steps off when all other avenues have been exhausted? Resolve today to have a daring faith when the Lord calls you to leave your comfort zone. Follow in his steps. 1 Peter 2:21b

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