Follow the Leader

I followed a group of children who toured the botanic gardens last week. The children fell in line, at least most of them did so. Their teacher was ahead and something inside me said, “pay attention, watch, listen and learn” I followed the teacher as she proceeded to lead the somewhat line-like gaggle of 5 year olds. As they walked, I noticed her patience, her persistence and her posture. She knew where she was going. She had a plan and she had a desire for each child to learn, see, grow, and experience for his or her own good.  And she led with such loving kindness.

“Follow me!” she shouted as the children were distracted by dragon flies and lady bugs. “Stay in line” the words were an invitation to order, for the good of the children.

“Look!” she would excitedly say as her eyes fell on a detail that she thought might delight the children.

“Come and see” the words fell out of her mouth and with them the children, like bumper cars, made their way to her and soon exclamations of wonder filled the air around me.

As they gathered, I paused. I wanted to see too. Curiosity rose up within me. Once the children had paused and noticed, I made my way to do the same.  I too was brought to wonder.

 As the children proceeded ahead I heard, “Stay on the path!”

“Don’t touch, there is purpose for each plant’s location”

“Keep off the grass, or it will die.”

 I couldn’t help but wonder if the children would think that they would be responsible for the death of the grass with one footstep on it? Could they understand the longer arch of patterned behavior that would eventually lead to the death of the grass, if all people, all of the time, were to walk on the grass?

 As I was in my own mind about these things, I heard squeals of ecstasy coming from the children before me. There was a small brook and the children noted two orange koi flopping in the ripples of the water. The two fish were entertaining the children and they could not contain their euphoria.

Simultaneously I noticed the teacher who had gone on ahead. She was only a few short steps from the children, but at her location, there were at least 50 colorful koi. She asked the children to come, they did not.

She said trust me, you’ll want to see this. Still the children could not pull themselves from the two playful fish in front of them.

She said, I promise you! You will want to see this, not wanting to give away any secrets of her present location.

Soon she left her looking spot, walked toward the children and took one by the hand and graciously asked the others to follow. Awwww… but I want to see the fish! One child pouted loudly.

Though she knew that he would see another, and in fact more fish than his little imagination could dream, she said, I know it’s hard to leave something so fun, but there’s more to see.

Knowing what they were about to see, my anticipation grew as the children made their way to the edge of the overlook, where scores of fish gathered below.

Their laughter was contagious.

As I followed the children this particular day, I was reminded of my leader, the one I have purposed to follow. His invitations are similar, Come and see. Follow me. Look! Stay on the path. There is a purpose. Do not stray. Trust.

 My imagination went wild as I felt the beauty of His invitations for my good. Following Him, I get to experience delight, have wonder cultivated within me and I get the opportunity to experience more than I could ask or imagine. Like the children who were satisfied with two fish, when schools of fish were awaiting them if they were to follow the voice of their leader, thought about the two fish I can be satisfied by, when abundance is just ahead, were I to follow the leader.

 

Imagine that Jesus is the leader being followed in this reflection and read again. What do you notice about his leadership?

 

What invitations stood out to you?

 

Can you think of places in scripture where similar invitations are given?

 

What do you feel as you read and reflect?

 

What are the invitations you are sensing from Jesus in your life today?

 

Describe your response to them.

 

A prayer for the follower:

Dear Lord,

May I trust you as my leader.

May I come when you call and may I know and trust your voice to guide me to life that is abundant and full.

May I see with your vision and hear all you desire me to hear.

May I walk in step with your Spirit and the wisdom and counsel you offer me.

Turn my heart to you and increase my desire to remain in you, following you as you lead me to life.

 

Cari Jenkins