But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 1:8 (NIV)
Sometimes we make decisions with far-reaching consequences…
This year, instead of giving something up for Lent, I decided to take something on…the challenge to reflect on the journey to Jerusalem taken by Jesus and his closest friends leading up to events that some of us would say changed the world. It has been tougher than I expected, to daily set aside time not just to read but to try to think deeply and allow the words of scripture to become part of me. I may have missed the odd day of writing, and not every day has been a gem (maybe not many days), but I had made a decision and I have kept to it. I have been grateful for the guidance of John Pritchard, through his book of Lent meditations based on Luke’s account of Jesus’ life.
Bigger still on the cosmic scale of decisions with far-reaching consequences was the decision I took 50+ years ago to become a follower of Jesus. That journey has taken me to places I would not have expected but, despite sometimes long periods of doubt and disaster, today I am still choosing to be a follower of Jesus. Bible college didn’t manage to put me off (as it has for some of my friends), being a part of a church that sorely needs the grace of Jesus has wounded me and made me wary, but failed to diminish either my love for Jesus or my desire to join in Community with others who love him too. My love of evolutionary biology (particularly the evolution of the mind) only increased my sense of something ‘bigger’, and my desire to see the Bible as more than a forensic instruction book to be taken literally at every turn may have lost me friends but has enabled me to draw closer to a God who isn’t full of wrath and violence, as so many have been led to understand, but truly loves us…like the Book says.
I know I’ve influenced some lives for good too, in my small way, and hopefully been a reliable signpost to Jesus in my ‘down’ moments as well as my ‘up’ ones. I still don’t resemble Jesus as much as I’d like to…
In the meantime, I’m reminded of the story of the reporter who asked the elderly long-term resident in the village, “Have you lived here all your life?”
“Not yet!” was the reply.
Who knows where the road will yet take me? My journey has not finished yet. Following Jesus has influenced so much of my journey thus far, and it’s often been times when I’ve metaphorically taken my eyes off him that I’ve slipped up. Like the friendly stranger on the road to Emmaus, he has always walked with me, explaining where I’ve gone wrong and often illuminating my foolishness…but in such a lovely way.
And sometimes my heart has burned within me too (and not just with indigestion)…
“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say”
― J.R.R. Tolkien,