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AS NEAR AS POSSIBLE


After a session of fingering through the thesaurus and having realized that the word “follow” didn’t represent
the passion I wanted to convey, I was confronted once again with the inadequacy of the English language.  
I needed to indicate three concepts: “never wanting to lose sight of”, “longing and excited to be in the
presence of”, and simply “desiring to stay as near as possible”.  

Reflecting back, I made a list of people who had drawn me to them in some special way, people who I wanted
to stay as near as possible to for a variety of motives.  I remember as a teenager wanting to be near Frank
and Phyllis as much as I could because they had guided me to Christ, and following them meant learning
more about Jesus.  I recall my wonderful aunt Kathy always sharing her humorous anecdotes, and it was a
delight to hear them over and over.  Once while a student at MBI in Chicago I went back to Boston to visit
with her and my uncle Leo for a week, allured by her delightful personality, wanting to be near her.  

During my early West Hollywood period in the 70’s my best friend Randy was someone I followed
everywhere.  He had a captivating and outgoing personality and we were a perfect balance.  Later there was
Rick who was protective of me.  And not all that long ago, I dedicated myself to my pastor Nancy because she
was such a good motivator.  I sensed the anointing of God on her, and having been close to a faith healer
years earlier, I was in tune with the ways of the Holy Spirit and wanted to stay close to someone
chosen of God.

What I experienced, the urge follow certain people, varied from mentoring, to family ties, to friendship,
to security, to God’s anointed.    

As Christians our first inclination is to follow Jesus, but given that we have never seen Him in person, we
follow by faith.  How does that happen?  The apostle Peter is an interesting example of someone who knew
Jesus in person.  He followed Jesus everywhere, but his actions wouldn’t always lead you to that conclusion.  
Had we been there at that time, our actions may have sometimes been questionable too.  If Peter wasn’t
literally following behind Him, he was seeking Him or imitating Him.  Remember the strange and confusing
night before the crucifixion when Peter was stalking Jesus in the garden?  He kept his distance, but
nonetheless determinedly followed.  Do you see Peter’s head towering above the others as the entourage
trailed Jesus into the countryside?  Stumbling sometimes to keep pace, Peter kept himself as near to his
Master as possible.  Can you picture him sprinting to the tomb when he received word that Jesus had risen
from the dead?  Can you see him spontaneously flinging his legs over the side of the boat and jumping into
the water in his hurry to get his Master?  He was compelled to follow; no rationalizing or questioning.  

Peter’s actions varied from stalking, to trailing, to sprinting, to jumping.  All spontaneous, yet with mistakes
and hasty conclusions.  Always following, always seeking his Master, always staying as near as possible.  

Peter followed Jesus.  
People followed Peter.  
Thus people came to follow Jesus too.  

Have others come to know Jesus because they have followed you?

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish…..”
John 10:27-28






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