Following in Traffic…
By Rev. Dr. Steve Van Ostran
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. Mathew 4:18-20
Following someone in traffic can be difficult.
While with a team in Puerto Rico (we were visiting pastors and churches there to get a sense of the impact of Hurricane Maria and the state of recovery), we found we had to take two or more vehicles to most places. Normally not a problem. Traffic is not too heavy, and we traveled mostly in daylight hours.
But our visits went late into the night. And while there was still not a lot of traffic, navigating in a place where many of the street lights and traffic lights are not working can be difficult. So even though our drivers had been to PR many times since the hurricane, they were still dependent upon traffic apps and/or GPS to navigate. Unfortunately, these highly sophisticated machines don’t always work correctly. Sometimes they wanted us to make a maneuver that was either illegal or not feasible and another time, while trying to navigate to a restaurant that was to serve as our meeting place, we found ourselves in the midst of a bunch of warehouses!
So, we became more and more dependent on local guides and following them closely.
Still, one evening, as we sought to return to our hotel, the group I was riding with began to wonder if we were following the right car. After dark, a white Toyota SUV becomes somewhat indistinguishable from all the other SUV’s out there. Is that a Toyota or a Hyundai? Is it white, silver or even a light green?
Added to that the driver of the vehicle we were following was having problems with their GPS and was taking several turns that didn’t seem correct to us. Was that car we thought was our colleagues really the right car?
Well, in the end, we decided to follow our own directions, turned around and headed to our hotel. Turns out the vehicle was the rest of our team and they too had figured out that there was a problem and ended up getting back to the hotel shortly after us.
But the point is simply, following someone, especially in traffic, can be hard to do.
Likewise, following Jesus is not as easy as it sounds. Peter, James and John left their nets to follow Jesus, thinking it was going to be an easier life only to discover that Jesus was leading them into a life that set them against the established religion and leaders of the day.
And when they discovered that, they started to break away and follow their own path, only to discover that Jesus’ way was the correct way after all: a difficult way to be sure; but a victorious way.
Many Christians today have begun to call themselves “Christ Followers” out of concern about how the word “Christian” is perceived today.
Well and good…although I’m not sure that striving to be a ‘follower of Jesus’ is any better than striving to be Christ-like or ‘Christian’… I know it’s not any easier. After all, following Christ always leads to the Cross. And I wonder how many of us will decide we’ve been following the wrong one when see him make that turn?!
Prayer: Oh Lord, I want to follow you and become a ‘fisher of men”- but sometimes the traffic and the route becomes scary. Help me not to lose hope…to lose courage…to lose faith but to follow steadfastly wherever you lead, even to the cross. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Steve Van Ostran