Yesterday I said how I’d love for Jesus to tell me I wasn’t far from the kingdom of God. I thought about it more, and I realized that even though God has never complimented me, I am so lucky that He has spoken to me.
The first time, I was praying about an appointment I had the next day with a nurse named Margaret, and I heard a voice clear as if your average American guy had been sitting next to me. He said, “Pray for Margaret and her family.” All I knew about Margaret was that she was married with two kids. I had no idea what to pray for, so I tried to cover the basics of health, safety, and spiritual well-being. I don’t remember the details of my prayer, but what I do remember is that I didn’t freak out about hearing His voice. It seemed like a normal thing! What freaked me out was when I was about to leave Margaret’s office the next day and she began to cry. She told me that she and her husband had decided to separate the night before. I could not believe it. God was real, and He worked in very mysterious ways. Why would it be important for me to pray for them? Why would God speak to me now and not any time before when other people surely had prayer-worthy events in their lives?
A few months later, the evening of September 11, 2001, our church had an emergency prayer meeting about the terrorist attacks that had taken place that morning. I entered the church and sat in the back left pew. Before the meeting started, I heard God’s voice. “I have already won.”
I just thought that might make you feel good to hear.
The third time God spoke to me involved a situation too personal to share, but what He said was something I wasn’t expecting at all. “I’m going to show you how a relationship can change.” Wow.
But about today’s passage.
“And He (Jesus) said to another, “Follow me.” But he said, “Permit me to first go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” And another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say goodbye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
I once heard a sermon that explained that burying someone was not a quick ordeal. These were supposed to be examples of procrastination. Now, we don’t necessarily need to say goodbye to our homes to follow Jesus since He’s not on Earth, but there may be things we need to not look back at. Many places in the Bible tell us to take care of our parents and families (1 Timothy 5:8, Matthew 15:5) and Paul even says that a woman who becomes a Christian is not supposed to leave her husband just because he’s not a believer (1 Cor. 7:13-14) so I don’t think we’re supposed to ditch our responsibilities to follow Jesus. But we are not to delay following Him, make excuses, or so much as look back at our old lives.
God give us wisdom. What do we need to stop looking back on? What responsibilities are we supposed to keep?
Choose a statement about His kingdom with which to replace your worries today.
*New American Standard Bible verses used in the book version of this devotional with permission from The Lockman Foundation.