I have apologized to several of our patients this week. My head and heart are filled with Bible school music and it keeps seeping out of my mouth – I don’t outright sing; I’m a hummer.
One of my favorite songs this summer is a re-do of “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”. I learned this tune decades ago. The kids will really love this revved up version. The words are easy to remember, like the old one: “I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.” There’s stomping and hand motions that go along with it.
It’s an easy and fun song to sing. My four-year-old friend, Ava loves it and we dance to it every time she rides with me in the car-though we’re still buckled in. It’s an easy and fun song to sing, but sometimes a hard one to live.
Sometimes following Jesus is fun! He leads us to do cool stuff like helping in Vacation Bible School. (Wait, that can be hard, too.) Following Jesus might be baking a cake for a new neighbor or getting clothes together for someone who has lost their home. They don’t cost very much and don’t take much time but you still get that warm and fuzzy feeling that you’ve done the Lord’s work. Others see it and support it and you feel even better.
Sometimes following Jesus can be difficult. He might call you to go to someone you don’t like or convict you to right a wrong from the past. His call might be to work with kids (and you’ve vowed you’d never do that!). Jesus might want you to love your neighbor or make peace with your sister (or brother). That’s when the song is hard to live.
This week, I was in a circle of short-term missionaries who felt absolutely called to go and help children in a slum in Africa. We held hands, prayed and cried. (That was mostly me.) The team had been through a lot to get to this day. They had the immeasurable support of our church family, some family and friends. They had prayed, planned and packed and were now ready to go.
There’s a verse in the song that says: Though none go with me, I still will follow. Though none go with me, I still will follow. Though none go with me, I still will follow. No turning back, no turning back.
Can we still go where Jesus calls when no one else sees the vision? Can we still press on when others question our abilities or our call?
Like other teams, this team had had critics. (There are always critics.) “Why don’t you do something here at home?” they ask. (That’s my favorite and I will try to not get on a soap box.) We do stuff at home. Churches are in every town, on many streets and up almost every hollow. We do help people in need. Also, this is America where we have programs to help that the slums in Africa and Haiti do not have.
“It will be dangerous,” they say. I’m not sure if people who say this have watched any news in the last year but the United States is not the safest place, either.
“What if something happens?” By this I’m pretty sure they mean “death”. People die every single day from car accidents, cancer and two zillion other things. (No comment is necessary here from me.)
The missionaries in the circle were living the words to my favorite new Bible School song. They had decided to follow Jesus…no turning back, no turning back. They would change lives but theirs would be changed most.
They loaded the last suitcases in the vehicles and headed out. We can’t wait to hear all the stories!
Dawn Reed is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.