Jesus said to them, “Follow me.”
Just as Abraham in the Hebrew Scriptures is the paradigm of trust and obedience to the call of God, so Jesus is the perfect model in the Gospel. His self-emptying, loving responsiveness to the will of his Father throughout his earthly life is what Christians attempt, with God's help, to emulate.
As God uniquely called and sent Jesus, his only begotten Son, to do his redeeming work in the world, so Jesus called and sent his disciples—and so he calls and sends us, inviting us to follow where he leads us. Christians, in different ways, in different ages, are followers of Christ, sometimes following him scrupulously, sometimes hesitantly, sometimes with fear. Sometimes able, like the saints, to follow him in great joy and freedom.
There is a legend of Saint Francis that illustrates the ways we may follow where Jesus leads: a great procession of all the faithful throughout the ages winds through history. These holy folk are intent on the path before them, careful, devout, ignoring everything but the need to fit their feet in Jesus' footsteps as precisely as they can.
And at the very end of this line comes Francis, the little poor man of Assisi, jubilantly bringing up the rear. He pays no attention to his feet or to himself at all; he is so completely focused on the One at the head of the procession that his feet fall spontaneously where they need to be, in a joyful self-forgetful dance of adoration and discipleship. Francis completely loved his Lord, recognizing in him what the Shaker hymn calls “the Lord of the Dance.”
“‘Dance, then, wherever you may be, for I am the Lord of the Dance,' said He” is the refrain of that lilting old song. We are free to make our following a kind of dancing, for the One we follow loves us and leads us, and we can trust him forever.
Lord of our lives, you invite us into the eternal dance of your joy. Help us to trust you to lead us where we ought to go, that we may forget ourselves and look only to you.
Copyright ©2005 Deborah Smith Douglas.