"…I will follow you wherever you go."
Sometimes I think I am only interested in the reward at the end. I look at others who I consider to be "successful" — those who are great leaders who have invested deeply in the lives of those they lead… or who those have risked everything to follow their passion and are now experiencing incredible fruit as a result — I look at the people I admire and I long to have what they have. But if I am being honest, I am often unwilling to do the hard work to get there. I just want the end result. More often then I care to admit, the same has been true in my journey of following Jesus. How many times have I said those same words that this teacher of the law spoke that day? How many times have I been like the young disciple who just needed to take care of one last thing before he really got down to the business of what it means to follow Jesus? I want the good that comes with being intimately connected with Jesus, but I am afraid or unwilling to go where Jesus goes. See, that's the thing about being a follower. It means that you actually FOLLOW your leader wherever they go… wherever they lead, and because our God is one who comes to us in our struggles and in our hurts and in our deepest times of need, following Jesus means that we go to those places with him. It's interesting in the telling of of this story Matthew goes from this encounter to the well known story where Jesus calms the storm. Those who DID FOLLOW that day followed him right into a storm where they feared for their very lives. It's easy to focus on the peace that Jesus brought to that storm. He did calm the winds and the waves, and I imagine that was a remarkable experience that brought comfort to the disciples in the moment and confidence to them in the many storms they would face later on. They could not have experienced that comfort or confidence, however if there had not been a storm to calm.
Salvation is a free gift given to us by the grace of God, but following Jesus is hard. It's hard to leave behind what is safe and comfortable and familiar to go where Jesus leads. It's hard, but I can't imagine anything else I'd rather give my life to. I would imagine that every one of the disciples who were in the boat that day would not have traded calm seas for what they experienced in being with Jesus both in and after the storm. Yes, I long for the reward… I long for my life to be one that bears fruit, but there is no shortcut. Jesus, give me the courage to follow you WHEREVER YOU LEAD!