THE NEED TO BE A FOLLOWER NOT A FAN

READ: MARK 8: 31-36

Then he called his disciples and friends to come over and listen.  “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross and follow me.”  (V. 34)

The night seemed to drag as he kept a bedside vigil over his dear wife of 53 years.  What now seemed like an eternity but in reality, was just 8 short months ago, she was diagnosed with ALS, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease and given less than a year to live.  Immediately after the diagnosis, he put the rest of his life on hold to spend every minute with the love of his life.  As the painful paralysis spread over her body, he tenderly cares for her accepting professional help only when absolutely necessary.  Now, with only a few painful but gracious days left, she was confined to bed waiting for the paralysis to spread to her chest muscles and lungs snuffing out her very breath of life.

Just a s dawn emerged she opened her eyes to the sound of the birds chirping outside her bedroom window.  The first speckles of light pulled her husbands head from his chest and noticing his wife’s open eyes he gently kissed her hand saying, “good morning.”  They had worked out a system of communication in which she would blink once for yes; twice for no; three times for please; and four times for thank you.  When asked if her pain was bad, she blinked on time.  Opening the blinds to the room bathed in the warm sunshine of the new day, he asked if this was the last day she wanted to live in agony and she blinked one time.  Knowing they had discussed her desire not to live in this condition months ago, he picked up a pillow and placed it close to her face and she blinked one time.  Are you sure was followed by one blink; a pause and three blinks; and a final pause followed by four blinks.  They had been Christians all of their lives attending church but now he was not certain God knew they existed.  His long good-bye ended when he kissed her, gently squeezed her hand, and then with non-stop tears placed the pillow over her face exerting light pressure.  Her body moved slightly but became totally still within less than 30 seconds.

This heart wrenching incident was taken from “Not a Fan,” written by Pastor Kyle Idleman and published by Zondervan on April 8, 2014.  While on its face it may appear extreme in nature, I humbly submit that many people in todays world make similar decisions every day.  In fact, one of my mentors on the police department, a Christian in belief, ended his own life when struck by a cancer diagnosis that might prove terminal and painful.  So, maybe not to this magnitude, but all of us will continue to be faced with life altering decisions that require making the choice between being a fan or true follower of Christ.

PAUSE FOR REFLECTION AND PRAYER

Jesus used the image of carrying the cross to show us the extraordinary effort required to be a true obedient follower every moment of our lives, especially when our paths become difficult and our futures look bleak.  That is when we need to lay aside our self-ambition and control and trust Him to direct our destinies to the Glory of God the Father marking the official transformation from fan to follower.

Dear Jesus, help me move from the grandstands marked for fans into the arena of following you.

You’re Brother in Christ,

Fred Ailes