I started “following” Jesus about 40 years ago.
Why the quotes? Because I wasn’t really “following” so much as stalking. I learned a lot about Him, but we rarely spoke. Not really.
One thing confused me. Pastors kept talking about counting the cost. To be honest, spiritual gifts seemed like convenient cover to avoid unpleasant tasks and do stuff I would have done anyway. In upper-middle-class Fort Collins, I couldn’t see how following Jesus was costing anyone very much.
Of course I was being awfully judgmental. I just knew my stalking wasn’t costing me anything. Jesus was patient, though. He used some years, an injury, and a handcycle to help me understand.
+ + +
Lots of years later, after our 1500-mile Mississippi River ride, Becky and I were invited on our first group ride, 500 miles from Cincinnati to Washington D.C. The ride started at National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. A softspoken gentleman whose grandparents were slaves directed our group on a tour of the horrific history of human slavery. I sort-of expected the tour to end somewhere around 1865, because Lincoln freed the slaves. Right?
I had some vague notion about contemporary human trafficking, but I wasn’t prepared for the stark reality we encountered. Around every corner another exhibit highlighted the horrible truth of this modern-day atrocity.
Near the end of our tour, we saw the famous quote from English abolitionist William Wilberforce:
You may choose to turn away, but you can never again say that you did not know.
+ + +
It wasn’t a lightning bolt of immediate revelation. Jesus doesn’t seem to work like that with me. A gentle nudge, an unrecognized stirring.
I could turn away. But if I didn’t…
Following Jesus was going to cost me something.