Recently I wrote about why I follow Jesus. It’s not because he’s healed me, miraculously provided for me, or given me the answers to all of my questions. While he promises to do those things (except maybe all the answers part), I’ve never personally experienced that. In the end, the reason I follow him is because he has won my heart.
After writing that post, I began to think about how Jesus did it. How did someone who I’ve never seen or audibly heard win my heart?
In a round-about way, he revealed a bit of how he did it through a blog post on leadership. Jeff Goins, guest-writing on Michael Hyatt’s blog, wrote:
Great leaders are effective, not because they know all the answers, but because they have the tenacity to act. Leadership, as it turns out, is really the act of making intentional decisions and accepting responsibility for them… [T]his is the key to being a leader worth following.
A leader worth following…. No one likes following a wishy-washy leader. We like following someone who has a goal and a clear plan to get there. A good leader makes decisions and takes responsibility for the consequences. If it turns out to be a bad decision, he makes another. A leader thinks, discusses, and then makes a decision and sticks with it. This is the type of leader people will follow.
It hit me that this is what Jesus did. He loved me before I loved him, remember? He made a decision and then invited me to follow him. Like with the disciples by the Sea of Galilee, he turned to me and simply, gently invited me to come with him, to walk in a relationship with him. “I have a goal,” he said, “to transform you from a person of sin into one of righteousness. I want to know you and I want you to know me. Will you come with me?”
The question hung in the air… as he waited for my answer. The Maker of the Universe, the Alpha and Omega, the King of all kings… waited to hear my answer. Had he forgotten that he controlled the very atoms that formed my tongue? With a lift of his eyebrow those atoms could curl and twist and air would obey his command and rush into my lungs and form the word, “Yes.” But he didn’t. Nor did he pound pound pound on my door asking in a thunderous voice, “What say you?” He waited for my answer, letting me freely choose to say yes or no.
How could I reject an invitation like that?
I certainly didn’t do things right, though. I messed up, left him for other things, said no to his small invitations when I should have said yes, but still he stayed with me. He was patient with my mistakes. He lovingly helped clean up my messes and tenderly lead me out of the dirt.
At times I screamed at him, hated him for remaining silent, for not giving me the things I needed. I ignored him for months on end, accused him of not loving me—and yet every time I looked, in spite of all I said and did, he still served me. He still gave me breath to breathe, still kept the atoms of my tongue in one place, still lifted the sun every morning, still covered me with his blood, still waited with open arms when I ran to him.
And lastly, while others rejected me, he called me chosen and precious. He looked at me and said, “This is how I made you and I love it! Not all that extra stuff, like the walls you’ve built or the things that sin have done to you, but you, the you hidden deep down in there for so long you don’t even know what it looks like—I love you.” He gave me permission to be myself, with all my cheesy jokes and bad hair days, with all my zits and cracked voices. He didn’t make me act a certain way or stop doing that annoying thing I do. He let me be me, and went out of his way to create situations where I could simply be who I am.
And when I felt too awkward to do it myself, he most tenderly, most gently, peered close at the me hidden deep deep inside and said, “Let’s see if we can you out here.” And doggone it, he keeps putting me in situations designed (I’m sure of it) to draw me out. Not ones that will make himself look good, mind you; the Cross was anything but flattering. The situations are never about making himself look cool or attractive. They are all about getting the real me out.
He leads me to cliff edge after edge and says, “I know you’re too scared to jump even though you really want to, so I’ll do it with you if you want.” I glare at him as I edge closer, and he grins that mischievous grin of his and says, “You don’t have to jump if you don’t want to. But I’ll be with you if you do.” I know if I don’t it’ll only be because I’m afraid, so of course I jump… and each time that I land safely with him next to me I grow more confident that maybe, just maybe, the me I’ve been too afraid to let out actually is valuable.
At the end of day when I sit down on my bed and think about him, I feel… his nearness. I feel our history together. I remember how he invited me on a journey, how he let me freely say yes or no, how he was patient with all my mistakes (however messy), how he served me no matter what I said, how he accepted me as I was and didn’t make me act like someone else and purposefully found situations that would draw out the real me no matter how it made him look—and my heart fills up.
This is the One who has won my heart, wholly and fully.
… about that dating advice….
Men, it’s really simple. Paul compared the way of a man with a woman with Jesus and his Church. So… just follow Jesus’ example.