Follow the Leader

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ

1 Corinthians 11:1

A few years ago, a sweet and generous friend invited my kids and me to spend a few days with her and hers at her beach house.  Being at the beach is my happy place so, of course, I leapt at the chance.
Because of an earlier commitment, I couldn't leave at the same time as my friend.  In spite of my notoriety as being directionally challenged and having to depart waaaaay later than wise for the 6 hour drive, I was determined to join her.  So I said yes yes yes and figured it would all work out.

Being the wise and compassionate friend that she is, she was not content to leave me to my senses.  She took her husband's mobile GPS system, made sure it was programmed for their favorite route, and insisted I use it to get there.

She's a gem.  For sure.

I packed up my two youngest as well as a buddy for my very youngest and set out long after dark.  I don't like to drive unfamiliar routes in the dark.  And especially not in the pouring rain.  But I plugged that system in and focused only on its instructions.  Turns out, there are several ways to reach this place.  And a few tricky, unclear turns to make.  But with this handy-dandy device, I was able to follow the tried and true route without mishap.  I felt more confident and a lot less worried than if I had had to navigate the journey with just my instincts.

Not once did I consider it arrogant or presumptuous of my generous friend to suggest I use her pre-programmed GPS.  Not once did I think of declining her offer and just winging it.  Not once did I presume to be better off on my own.

Instead, I was immensely grateful and fastidious to follow it precisely.

I knew she'd been there a hundred times before and she knew the best way.  Even if it wasn't easy in the dark with rain pouring and three other lives depending on my ability to stay out of the ditch, I knew I could make it if I just followed the instructions.  Since I couldn't follow her car directly, I could instead follow the path she laid out for me.

She showed tremendous compassion and concern to see to it I had a path to follow.

Why, then, are we so reluctant to do the same in life?  Instead of telling someone a season or so behind us "just follow me, I can help you get there", we get down in the ditch with them and agree that it's a hard place to be.  In an effort to maintain humility, we parade all our failures, whine about our woes, and insist everything is just impossible.  I remember as a young follower of Christ, I wanted a role model with skin on.  I wanted someone that I could watch and trust enough to emulate.  I didn't expect (or even want) perfection - just someone that would say - "you can imitate me because I am imitating Christ". Someone willing to be scrutinized...because they weren't afraid of what would be found.  Someone willing to be examined because their reputation was of no concern - only Christ's.  Someone willing to be followed because they were willing to follow The One.

I found some "someone's" like that.  They didn't see themselves as worthy of emulation but they were "programmed" to reach their destination just like that GPS.  And I listened to their instructions, I watched the screens of their lives, and I imitated what was there.

I am forever grateful for those people. 

Granted, it's hard to be a "human GPS".  We're liable to make a wrong turn or project an ETA incorrectly.  And that might cause some angst to whomever is watching our screen.  But just as Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel Mary Anne, in that classic children's favorite, worked harder and faster because people came to watch, maybe the same will be true of us.  Maybe just knowing that someone else is imitating us, we'll be more careful to imitate Christ...instead of expecting to be excused for laziness or error or stumbles.

I still need those people in my life.

And I need to be one of those people so that someone else can follow me.

And then someone else can imitate them.

And then someone else...and then someone else...

And when we look up ahead, instead of "someone", we will see The One. 

And He'll get us across that finish line.

Will you say with me,

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ