Neither Permission nor Necessity

Jeremiah 1:7 (NIV)

Do not say, “I am too young.” You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.

Acts 18:9–10

The Lord said to Paul, “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you.” 


This beautiful display of springtime beauty was captured in Portland, Oregon several years ago.

When a soldier goes to war, he do so for one or two reasons: either because he is commanded to do so and threatened with severe consequences for failing to follow orders, or he goes because he is motivated by patriotic ideals and wishes to protect the country and people he loves.

When a woman seeks a new job it is either because she has been laid off, or because she is seeking better options and has a new sense of calling and sees new opportunities – whether financial or personal – in the new career path she has chosen.

This is the carrot and stick of life: There are things we do because we are required to do so. They range from going to war, to paying taxes, to earning a living. Then there are things we do because of the reward and benefit we receive from doing so, ranging from pursuing a new career to joining a local gym and working out.

When it comes to following Jesus, we have the command that is sometimes more challenging than we anticipate. But we also have the promise of God’s presence and the foundation of God’s redemption as we go. John Baillie describes the path of obedience as “a road beaten hard by the footsteps of saints, apostles, prophets and martyrs.” It is a road mapped out by the Savior of the world who gave his life as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. It is a journey we are commanded to take. It is also a journey upon which he will accompany us, and which he promises will bring the truest and fullest experience of life.

I will not likely face a life-and-death moment of my faith today. But I will have an opportunity to follow Jesus in times and places some of which may be challenging. I have neither the permission to make those optional, nor the necessity of traveling that path alone. Thankfully it is the love and grace of God that sustains me along the path I will travel today.

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