A few weeks ago Kristi and I went to Ecuador to visit our missionaries (the Williams’), and as a bonus we were able to see our son Josh and our daughter-in-law Kasey. (They are in Ecuador with the Williams’ for a six month exploratory mission to better understand God’s call on their lives). It was an incredible time. We lived in the jungle for three days, enjoyed time with these wonderful servants of the Lord, viewed their ministry, heard their stories, and shared life for a while.
On one of our days in the jungle one of the Waorani (aka Waodani – the infamous tribe of people that killed five missionaries back in 1956 in the Ecuadorian Rain Forest) took us for a ‘quick’ trip to a new waterfall they had found. This was after a hard day of a community work project widening the dirt runway of the village and clearing the brush from around a hut. The idea of a refreshing swim and the sights along the trail were compelling and we all ventured off following Omah, one of the tribal elders.
Kristi and quickly learned that the speed of veteran jungle travelers was at a much quicker pace then we could have imagined. I was at a mild jog just to keep them in sight, which was imperative because what they said was a well-marked trail seemed no different than any other direction I could look as we hacked through the rain forest with our machetes. (It’s best if you can say machetes with a strong Spanish accent something like ‘ma-chet-tase’…it just makes it fun!)
We were doing our best to follow Omah’s trail, for he knew the way. He had discovered this wonderful place and was all excited for us to enjoy what he found. We did finally get there…about an hour and a half later. One of the Waorani stayed back with us and helped us follow the trail and even lead Kristi by the hand over and up some slippery and steep terrain. It was well worth the journey; the water was refreshing, the fun of watching people jump off the ledge and try to climb the tree stump, and just play in the water…what a joy. The journey back did not seem to take long and was fairly uneventful, well, except for that bout with a poisonous snake, but that’s another story for another time.
As I was reflecting on this little adventure I was reminded about our life-journey with the Lord. He knows the trail, He’s been there before, and He wants us to follow Him. Jesus said to His disciples, “…follow me” (Matthew 4:19). That same request comes to us:
1 Peter 2:21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
Following His trail is to do what Jesus did and what Jesus would do.
John 13:15 I (Jesus) have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
Ephesians 5:1-2 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
The Apostle Paul sought to follow Jesus’ trail and said:
1 Corinthians 11:1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
That may seem bold, brave, and maybe brash, yet we are all called to be that example. Matthew 5 says we are to be the salt and light, and all through the New Testament those who follow Jesus are called ‘Christians’ which means ‘little Christ.’ How do you feel with that title? It’s kind of daunting to think that our actions, attitudes, how we treat people, how we drive, how we interact with our neighbor, how diligent we do at our job or school or parenting or treat our spouse or parents…they all reveal what life is like to follow Jesus’ trail.
Now, we could spend hours searching the Scriptures for good teaching on what are some key elements in following Him, but let me just give one. It was one that hit me loud and clear as I walked that trail to the waterfall. I needed to submit to Omah’s way. Just a few steps off his trail and I would be lost, literally lost! I had a healthy fear of keeping on that trail and I chose to obey my guide. One key to following Jesus’ trail is obedience.
1 Samuel 15:22 But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
There is a whole great story behind the truth Samuel explains, and you should read the chapters around this verse. But the key here is that obedience is better than sacrificing here and there for the Lord. Yes, there are times God calls on us to give up time, money, energy and more for Him, but it is far better we obediently follow His trail. A trail He has laid out in His word.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
It’s very clear…read it, know it, do what it says!
That kind-of quick adventure to the waterfall was amazing, and just like that, God has an amazing adventures waiting for all of us. Let’s keep following Jesus’ trail, obeying His word and soaking in this path God has us on…even when it’s tough.
Following His Trail with you,