I have led hundreds of couples to vow these words to each other. I have said them myself. Making a commitment is easier than keeping a commitment.
I have also had to help pick up the pieces when those commitments have been broken. A wife who runs away because she doesn’t want to deal with a sickness. The husband who seeks pleasures from another woman. A wife who no longer wants to stay in a marriage that doesn’t make her happy. The husband who is tired of the nagging and would rather be alone. But where is the commitment “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health, to love and to cherish till death do us part.”
The commitment to follow Jesus is also easier to make than to keep. It can be challenging, tiring, frustrating, exhausting, and seem to be unfulfilling. We can be tempted by all the fun, excitement and pleasure of those who don’t take their commitment seriously. To follow Jesus means to say no to following everything else.
In Luke 8:22-39 we discover one day in the life of the original 12 followers of Jesus. They learned much on this day. He led them through a storm and into a hotbed of Satanic control. When you commit to follow Jesus, He will also lead you through storms and Satan. Where do we follow Jesus?
At 680 feet below sea level, the Sea of Galilee is the lowest freshwater lake on earth. The lake is surrounded by steep hills on all sides. Cooler air from the higher elevations flows down the slopes and collides wit the warmer air near the lake’s surface. As the air runs through the ravines and canyons it is compressed and its speed intensifies created sudden, violent, life-threatening storms.
It was a storm like this that Jesus led His disciples into in Luke 8:22-25. As He slept, the disciples freaked out over the storm. They thought they were going to die. After waking Him up, He calmed the wind and waves and chastised the disciples for their lack of faith.
If Jesus takes you into a storm, He will take you through it. It might be a storm of temptations, troubles, or sorrow. But Jesus will go through it with you. Have faith in Him.
Judy and I felt called of God to start a new church in a suburb of Columbus several years ago. As we began, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was during that first year of starting a new church that he went through a losing battle. In less than a year he died at the age of 54. Following Jesus led us through a tremendous storm that I still don’t know why. But I know that Jesus helped me survive it. Continue to follow Jesus in spite of the storms.
Why did Jesus sleep when His disciples were in danger? Why does Jesus seem to be asleep while you are going through your storm? To strengthen your faith. The key to building muscle is to exercise to failure – you can’t do it anymore. It isn’t necessary, but it does promote maximum increase in muscle strength. If God takes you into a storm that seems to overwhelm you, He will use it to increase your spiritual strength.
Trust Jesus in the storms of life.
In Luke 8:26-39, Jesus and His disciples encountered a man who was completely controlled by a demon. Naked, living in the cemetery, with supernatural strength, he was inhabited by multitudes of demons (a Roman Legion was 6,000 soldiers). Yet, the demons were more afraid of Jesus and asked to be cast into the pigs rather than the bottomless pit. Jesus permitted this and the pigs ran down the cliff to their own death. The man ended up calmly sitting at Jesus feet, fully clothed and in his right mind. Jesus has the power to free anyone from whatever has enslaved them.
Brian “Head” Welch was the lead guitarist of the multiple-platinum hard-rock group KORN. He was addicted to alcohol and hard drugs, including meth. He failed in his many attempts to break his addictions. In an article he told how he won the battle.
“I really wanted God to take away my addiction to drugs. I was like, “Oh, man this is crazy! Who am I talking to? How do you know He hears you? Jesus, if you’re real, take away my addiction!” and God kept showing up in my life. Wherever I went, everyone I came in contact with started talking about Jesus. then I went to a church with some friends and just asked Jesus into my heart. Shortly after that I had a spiritual encounter with God, and He took away my desire to do drugs. I felt Him come into my life and that’s when everything changed.”
What about demons and evil? There are two extremes of demonology today. Some believe it an ancient way to describe physical or psychological problems. Others see demons everywhere and yield to their superior power. Demons are real and can control people. The Christian cannot be demon possessed, but a Christian can yield to demonic influence. But no demon, even Satan himself, are no match for Jesus. He has power over Satan, fallen angels, and demons.
People all around us are trapped by evil. We know the power, the Person, who can give them freedom. But we may have the same problem as the city leaders. Rather than encourage Jesus to stay, they wanted Him to leave. Jesus had disrupted the swine business and they cared more for the pigs than the demoniac. We should care more for people than possessions.
As we choose to follow Jesus, we are going to encounter problems. It may be a storm. It may be Satanic. But we will need to push through and continue to follow. Don’t let anything or anyone deter us from following Jesus.
Paul challenges us in 1 Corinthians 9:24 to finish our race – keep following Jesus. There are many runners in a race, but only one receives the first place. But since you are the only one who is running your race of life, the only thing to keep you from getting first place is to quit. Don’t quit following Jesus. Follow Jesus into dangerous circumstances. Follow Jesus into demonic control. Don’t let anything stop you.
- Get your instructions daily. Stay in touch with Jesus.
- Take life one day at a time. Don’t get ahead or behind.
- Keep your eyes on Jesus. Don’t get distracted.
Have you ever been to a running race? Maybe a 5K or 10K? How about a ½ or full marathon. Everyone looks good, many are smiling. People are singing along with the songs. It’s a happy time. But the end of the race is a different story. Sweaty, tired, exhausted – you can see the fatigue in their face. It’s easier to star a race than finish a race. Why do people run a race? The finish line.
When you commit to follow Jesus, you will encounter times when you are exhausted, discouraged, ready to quit. But keep your mind on the finish line. You don’t get the prize until you finish the race. For me, it will be worth it to simply hear from Jesus’ own lips “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Keep following Jesus.