There has been a battle waging in my thoughts recently more than ever before. A question of "Do I really get what it means to live for Christ?" I have been asking the Lord to open my eyes to ways of life that I have been selfish in, or somehow have justified as being deserved. I have even begun to really wonder if the "American" dream or lifestyle has become a cage for the Christian and the church. What real blessings have we missed out from giving everything to the Lord. To putting our money where it counts! I have totally missed the boat on this one! And today as I read this passage below from the old book "In His steps", to my girls, I just lost it and wept, and then I read it to my husband and son when they got home from camp, and I wept again and poured out my heart to Matt a bit later. Matt and i read this book together with the staff the summer we worked as Lead Counselors at Shaminaeu just after we had gotten married. The book had gained a new popularity with the "What Would Jesus Do" slogun. The book did effect me some, but now as I read it again aloud to my kids, it hits so hard at a time when that area of my life needs a drastic overhaul.
Here is the passage that stirs me, it is coming from a man who is homeless, jobless, and has suffered great loss. He is standing before a church congregation at the end of a sermon about following Jesus. This is a congregation full of comfortable people, people with good stature in the community and even a preacher who has maybe forgotten a bit about who Jesus is and what our purpose here should be. I unfortunately could fit into this bunch a bit too often, and am greived by this. For this I am so sorry.
"I have been wondering since I came here, if it would be just the thing to say a word at the close of this service. I'm not drunk and I'm not crazy, and I'm perfectly harmless; but if I die, as there is every likelihood I shall in a few days, I want the satisfaction of thinking that I said my say in a place like this, and before this sort of crowd."
I'm not an ordinary tramp, though I don't know of any teachings of Jesus that makes one kind of a tramp less worth saving than the other. Do you? I lost my job ten months ago. I am a printer by trade. The new linotype machines are beautiful specimens of inventions, but I know six men who have killed themselves inside the year just on account of those machines. Of course, i do not blame the newspapers for getting the machines. Meanwhile, what can a man do? I know I never learned but one trade, and that's all I can do. I've tramped all over this country trying to find something. There are a good many others like me. I'm not complaining, am I? Just stating facts. But I was wondering, as I sat under the gallery, if what you call following Jesus is the same thing that He taught. What did he mean when he said, 'Follow me?' The minster said that it was necessary for the disciple of Jesus to follow in His steps, and he said the steps were obediance, faith, love, and imitation.But I did not hear him tell you just what he meant that to mean, especially the last step. What do you Christians mean by following the steps of Jesus? I've tramped through this city for three days trying to find a job, and in all that time I've not had a word of sympathy or comfort except from your minister here, who said he was sorry for me and hoped I would find a job somewhere. I suppose it is because you get so imposed on by the professional tramp that you have lost your interest in the other sort. I'm not blaming anybody, am I? Just stating facts. Of course, I understand you can't go out of your way to hunt jobs for people like me. I'm not asking you to, but what i feel puzzled about is, what is meant by following Jesus? What do you mean when you sing, "I'll go with him, with him all the way." Do you mean that you are suffering and denying yourselves and trying to save the lost, suffering humanity just as I understand Jesus did? What do you mean by it? I see the ragged edge of things a good deal. I understand there are more than 500 men in this city in my case. Most of them have families. My wife died four months ago. I'm glad she is out of trouble. My little girl is staying with a printers family until I find a job. Somehow I get puzzled when I see so many Christians living in luxury and singing, "Jesus. I my cross have taken, all to leave and follow thee,' and remember how my wife died in a tenement in New York City gasping for air, and asking God to take the little girl too. Of course I don't expect you people can prevent everyone from dying of starvation, lack of proper nourishment, and tenemant air, but what does following Jesus mean? I understand that Christian people own a good many tenemants. Amember of a church was owner of the one where my wife died, and I have wondered if following Jesus all the way was true in his case. I heard some people singing at a church prayer meeting the other night
'All for Jesus, all for Jesus, All my being's ransomed powers; All my thoughts and all my doings, All my days and all my hours.'
and I kept wondering as I sat outside on those steps just what they meant by it. It seems to me there is an awful lot of trouble in the world that somehow wouldn't exsist if all the people who sing such songs went and lived them out. I suppose I don't understand. But what would Jesus do? Is that what you mean by following in His steps. It seems to me sometimes as if the people in the big churches had ggod clothes and nice houses to live in, and money to spend for luxuries, and could go away for summer vacations and all that, while the people outside the churches, thousands of them, I mean, die in tenemants and walk the streets for jobs, and never have a piano or picture in the house, and grow up in misery and drunkeness and sin. " -Charles M Sheldon(In His Steps)
Here is what I do believe.... Jesus is still the ONLY one, the ONLY way who can make change happen and heal the ills of this world, not christians. But we, as christians can sure follow his example better and be a tool for his purpose and plan! Maybe we need to take a harder look at what it means to follow in his steps! Just thought I would share something a bit more personal tonight, didn't really feel like I could lay my head down on my pillow to sleep without sharing the stirring in my soul today. Goodnight my lovely family, friends, and customers, you are all a blessing to me!