"Yes, He loves His people, all those consecrated to Him are in Your hand. They followed in Your steps…."
Deuteronomy 33: 3
"Whatever you find in your heart to do in following God, that do, and remain within yourself in Him."
Antony of Egypt
What does it mean to me to "follow" Jesus?
Do I follow Jesus each day?
"Lord, Thy word abideth,
And our footsteps guideth;
Who its truth believeth
Light and joy receiveth."
Henry Williams Baker
"God, take me by Your hand, I shall follow You, dutifully, and not resist too much. I shall evade none of the tempests life has in store for me."
The words above come from a prayer written by a young Jewish writer found in the diaries she kept from 1941-1943 in Auschwitz, Poland. Born in Middleburg, Netherlands, I'm certain that as a child, Etty could never have imagined where "walking in God's footsteps" would take her, yet when imprisoned in the hellish surroundings of one of the most blood-chilling torture chambers ever known on planet earth, this is what Etty penned: "I shall never again assume, in my innocence, that any peace that comes my way will be eternal. I shall accept all the inevitable tumult and struggle. I delight in warmth and security, but I shall not rebel if I have to suffer cold, should You so decree. I shall follow wherever Your hand leads me and shall try not to be afraid. I shall try to spread some of my warmth, of my genuine love for others, wherever I go; I don't want to be anything special, I only want to try to be true to that in me which seeks to fulfill its promise."
I don't know how you feel, but as I reflected on the fact that these words were written when this young woman was being held against her will in a concentration camp, I wondered to myself, "Would I have shown the same determination to follow God – even when being abused in the pits of hell?"
Yesterday, as we gathered with the children of Israel to listen to the "last will and testament," read by Moses himself, we found that the foundation of a life well-lived begins with our life being grounded on the "Rock of our foundation."
Today, we will look at one of the three sturdy timbers that supports the life we want to build. We find in Deuteronomy 33: 3, that the first "timber" is "They followed in Your steps."
In the King James Version of the Bible, this phrase "followed in Your steps" is translated: "sat down at Thy feet." In Hebrew, the word sat, in this text, is used in an interesting way. It doesn't mean "sat down to rest or be lazy." Instead, the form of the word means to "encamp." As Webster's dictionary defines "encamp," it means, "to set up camp to live." This is active not passive behavior. This piece of information becomes more important when we look at the Hebrew meaning of the word "feet."
The translation of the word feet is also active, implying "used in walking" or "a step" or "a journey." But there's more. In this case, it is feet that endure the journey.
Now, let's take a look at the entire phrase I call BEAM #1: "Sat down at Thy feet." A life well-lived has the "Rock" as its foundation and BEAM #1 is our willingness to encamp, to live permanently, as we journey through life, in the presence of God. And when, as Etty wrote, tough times threaten to make us long to pack our bags or lose our faith or give up and say, "I've had enough," we continue to endure, step by step.
What's more, if we fall flat on our faces during our journey, as Moses did more than once, we don't toss everything overboard. Instead, we stay encamped on the Rock.
The Greek Christian, John of Carpathos, penned these words which should inspire each of us everyday in our walk as we follow the King of the Universe. "When you follow the Lord with burning love, it may happen that on the road of life you strike your foot against the stone and fall unexpectedly into sin; you may slip involuntarily and fall headlong. Each time you fall and in this way injure your body, you should get up again with the same eagerness as before, and continue to follow after your Lord until you reach Him."
The call for us to follow still rings out loud and clear today: "My sheep recognize My voice. I know them and they follow Me.…" (John 10: 27, The Message).
"To live well is nothing other than to love God with all one's heart, with all one's soul and with all one's efforts; from this it comes about that love is kept whole and uncorrupted. No misfortune can disturb it. It obeys only God and is careful in discerning things, so as not to be surprised by deceit or treachery."
"O My God. Thou and Thou alone art all-wise and all-knowing! I believe that Thou knowest just what is best for me. I believe that Thou lovest me better than I love myself, that Thou art all-wise and all-powerful. I thank Thee, with all my heart, that Thou has taken me out of my own keeping, and hast bidden me to put myself in Thy hands. I can ask nothing better than this to be Thy care, not my own. O my Lord, through Thy grace, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest, and will not lead the way. I will wait on Thee for Thy guidance, and, on obtaining it, I will act in simplicity and without fear. And I promise that I will not be impatient, if at any time I am kept by Thee in darkness and perplexity; nor will I complain or fret if I come into any misfortune or anxiety. Amen."
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
Available May 2009