What happens when you follow Jesus? How do you hear God’s voice, and will He really grant the desires of your heart? These practical tips and examples of how I follow Jesus Christ will shine a little light on your own path. This article is especially helpful for Christian women who want to follow Jesus but aren’t sure if they’re doing it “right.”
One of the best things about God is the freedom He offers us. We’re free to be ourselves, to enjoy our lives, to build healthy relationships, and to follow Jesus Christ to the cross — and beyond! This is also one of the hardest things about God. How do you know if you’re listening to the Holy Spirit, following Jesus, and obeying God’s desires for your life?
When I wrote Are You Scared to Follow God’s Voice? I assumed we all clearly hear God speak through the Holy Spirit. I was wrong. Not all Christian women hear or feel the Holy Spirit’s leading in their lives. Some Christians feel strongly called by God during some seasons of their lives or for specific decisions, but His voice isn’t always clear. No matter how much some Christian women want to follow Jesus Christ to the cross, they get confused, scared and doubtful.
Worse are the feelings of unworthiness, guilt, and shame. Here’s what I told my friend yesterday: “I just don’t feel like I matter. What difference does it make if I show up or not? Who really cares if I visit, or write another blog post about the Bible, or even keep following Jesus? How much do I matter, and who am I that God should care about me?”
3 Ways I’m Following Jesus
This blog post is part of my She Blossoms Through the Bible project; I’m writing an article for every chapter in every book of Scripture. Today is Exodus 40 — which is the last chapter of that book of the Bible. We went through the waters when God parted the Red Sea. We received the ten commandments, built the tabernacle, and made the priestly garments. And let’s not forget about Moses! We found him floating down the river in a basket and watched him ascend Mount Sinai to talk to God.
And now we close the book of Exodus with a humble, loving look at Jesus. I’ve been learning the importance of listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit and learning how to follow Jesus even when you’re scared to follow your heart’s desires. It’s crucial to listen for His still small voice, and ignore the external noise and outside voices that cast shadows on the cross.
1. Follow Jesus by going slow
“Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward in all their journeys. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.” – Exodus 40:36-38. It must’ve been easy to follow God back in the day, when you had Moses as a leader and the presence of the Lord as the signal to proceed! The Israelites had Aaron the priest, Moses their God-anointed leader, and the promise of a permanent priesthood throughout their generations (Exodus 40:15).
Going slow is the smartest way to follow Jesus. It can be tempting to rush ahead of Him, especially if you’re sure the Promised Land is right around the corner! Your Promised Land might be starting a new job or rescuing a dog from a shelter. Maybe you’re planning your first wedding ceremony or buying a new wheelchair. Or maybe your Promised Land is going on a missions trip to Haiti or making a career change at 40. Whatever it is, you’re excited and happy…and you may try to get there too soon. Resist the temptation to run ahead of Jesus. Instead, practice learning how to follow Jesus by going slowly and steadily.
2. Follow Jesus by listening for the Spirit’s voice
In Exodus 40:1-5 we learn how Moses followed God through the desert: “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “On the first day of the first month you shall set up the tabernacle of the tent of meeting. You shall put in it the ark of the Testimony, and partition off the ark with the veil. You shall bring in the table and arrange the things that are to be set in order on it; and you shall bring in the lampstand and light its lamps. You shall also set the altar of gold for the incense before the ark of the Testimony, and put up the screen for the door of the tabernacle.”
Listening for the Spirit’s voice means you have to be quiet. This is one of the hardest things for me! I walk every morning from 5:15-6 am. I used to listen to sermons on podcasts, but now I’m doing a lectio divina prayer. It’s a contemplative prayer practice; a passage of Scripture is read slowly three times, with periods of silence to allow God to speak. I love this practice. I especially love the imaginative prayer exercises, which is a different podcast. Yesterday I found myself following Jesus Christ to the cross and then walking with Him afterward, on the road to Emmaus. The easy part is walking, listening to the podcasts, and imagining Jesus. The hard part is turning off the podcast when it’s over and walking with God in silence.
3. Learn why it’s hard for you to follow Jesus
The book of Exodus describes why it was hard for the Israelites to wait for Moses to descend from Mount Sinai and follow the Lord. Exodus 32 tells us the story of the golden calf, which I wrote about in If You’re a Christian, Why Aren’t You Happy? It was hard for the Israelites to follow God because they were distracted by their neighbors, who were worshiping the idols of false gods. The Israelites got tired of waiting for Moses to come back and for God’s word to be revealed. The Israelites found it hard to follow the Lord because they didn’t trust and have faith. And, they didn’t have a personal relationship with God.
Why is it hard for you to follow Jesus Christ to the cross – and beyond? It’s hard for every Christian woman to stay focused on God’s will and listen for the Holy Spirit’s voice — but it’s hard in different ways. The key is to learn what your own struggles are, your own weaknesses and temptations. The accuser knows you, and he is constantly trying to pull you away from following Jesus. The devil is active, crouching like a beast outside your door. And the devil doesn’t look evil, scary, or grim! He looks innocent, harmless, even good. The devil tries to make it hard for you to follow Jesus, but you can dance above and beyond the devil’s reach. Start by becoming aware of how, when and why you stop following Jesus. Learn what you’re afraid of, why you doubt God, how you stop hearing the Holy Spirit’s voice.
If you weren’t afraid, what would you do with your life? How is Jesus calling you to follow Him? Imagine the possibilities! Imagine how amazing it would be to sink into His love and be fully, truly you without worrying about what people think or what could happen if things don’t go the way you plan.
With His love,
P.S. If you’re struggling to follow Jesus Christ to the cross — and beyond! — read How Do You Trust God With Your Future?