Hard to follow when you're in the lead.

Dreary, cold, blurry rain made for a miserable drive home.  I picked up the kids from school and I was on edge.  They were getting sleepy from the drizzle and repetitive sound wet, slushy tires make, but with the poor driving conditions, I was tense and vigilant.

When we merged onto the freeway, I spotted the lighted cross on the eighteen wheeler behind us.  I asked my yawning daughter to grab my cell phone and snap a picture of it's reflection in the passenger side mirror.

It's a great shot, right?  The rain from the road.  The gray gloomy day.  Everything around that lighted cross was hazy and out of focus.   It might have been an even better picture if you could see the bold typeface: *Objects in mirror are closer than they appear*

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At first, I was reassured.  Comforted by the glowing image of a lighted cross behind us.  The kids could turn around in their seats and see it better than I could.  They thought it was a cool thing to see on an routine day.  "It's not in a parade or anything!"  As I drove, I caught flashes of it in my rearview mirror and it reminded me that Jesus is always there, even in miserable driving weather.  He's got my back.  He's watching over us.  We're going to be okay and arrive home safely.  Maybe the lighted cross was a sign and Jesus was saying: "I know you're anxious about driving in this weather but I'm here."  Then a quarter dropped down into my mind's jukebox and Carrie Underwood's song "Jesus take the wheel" kept time with the windshield wiper blades.

The kids slump down in their seats and nod off to the luxury of a car nap and I'm left thinking about the truck and it's lighted cross.  My reassurance of it's presence shift gears to self-reflection. Ride along with me on this one.  The Jesus eighteen wheeler weaves in front and behind cars while navigating the road, so the cross can be sometimes ahead of you and sometimes behind you, right?   So what if the image wasn't to remind me that He has my back, what if the message is:  How can I follow Him if I'm in the lead?  Now, I'm not suggesting following trucks just because they have lighted cross adornments on their massive grills.  I'm asking you consider this image figuratively.  Are you looking over your shoulder when you see Him?

Slight detour - It's like our dog.  She's a real sweetheart but about as bright as a wet bag. In fact, we think she's diminished.  Our dumb dog is a precious member of our family but if we were to let her out of our fenced back yard or give her freedom from her leash on a walk (or in her case, walking-choking exercise) she would run and run and run for miles and days.  At some point, she would stop, then look around and wonder where we were.

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I hate to compare myself to a mutt with such limited capacity but the behavior is sometimes like me with Jesus.  He asks me to walk with Him.  Follow Him.  Go where He goes.  But what inevitability happens is that He points to the general direction we need to go and I'll run ahead excited to see where it leads.  And I run and run and run for miles and days and then I stop.  Then life's storms and rains and pitfalls show themselves and I'm as lost as my stupid dog.  I wonder, where is Jesus?

Why am I lost and confused?  Isn't this the direction we were supposed to go? I'm not where He is if I get there first.  I'm not where I'm supposed to be according to His plan.  But like any puzzle master, He rearranges the pieces and creates a new path for me.  If I had been paying attention, He may have needed me to make a few turns or pick someone up along the way.  I didn't follow.  I depart on my own, foraging into the wilderness - or downtown - or side streets - or a drive thru and I look around and He's not where I can see Him.  I took my eyes off of Him.  I wasn't following.  I know He's around because He always is, but had I FOLLOWED Him, I wouldn't have felt LOST.

Seeds to Share

Matthew 4:19 - Come, follow me, Jesus said, and I will make you fishers of men. 

John 8:12 - When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.