Who is The Follower? Wow! That is a loaded question. Do you got a few hours? He refers to humself ‘the follower’ as it is his heart’s desire to follow in the ways of the Lord Jesus Christ.
First the simple stuff. Stephen has been married for thirty years, to the same woman, has three wonderful boys, two dogs, and two cats. He has lived in the St Louis metro area for six years with a brief stint in Phoenix, twice living in the republic of Texas, but spent his childhood in and around Tulsa.
Now the not-so-simple stuff. Stephen is the son of a pastor, which may explain a lot. He grew up in all-things-church. He has spent much of his life involved in the activities of the church…the good, the bad, and the ugly. That is until that last few years. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here…
A journey was undertaken. It was like hitting a fork in the road. A big fork. A drop off the canyon wall. As such, radical change has taken over his life. It started with a couple books by John Eldredge, (Wild at Heart and Waking the Dead), followed by a weekend men’s Boot Camp in Colorado Rockies hosted by Eldredge. The wheels were set in motion for life-change and those wheels keep on turning.
God is good, You are Bad, Try Harder was the revelation. His Christianity had been reduced to this horrific, but highly common, principle. Confronted with the fact that he was living as a “Poser”; bound up in legalism, rules, rights and wrongs…more generally speaking…Performance Christianity… whereby one performs to gain, secure and maintain God’s favor. An onerous task that he failed at miserably. All the while, the outside world thought he was a model Christian (uh, Poser)…involved in leadership, teaching classes, musician, audio guy, occasional preacher, etc. It looked wonderful to the naked eye but he was dying inside.
Life had devolved into “sin management” more than “knowing God”. This is one screwed up way of living life but that fateful trip to Colorado became the snowball set loose at the top of the mountain. Life was focused on doing the right thing, a.ka. not sinning; but failure was more prevalent than righteous living. It was a rude awakening to realize that his efforts were in vain, and that the performing and posing must stop. God loved The Follower just as he was: frustrated, flawed, stuck in his sins, yet possessing a heart to know God better and to be transformed…to be free.
Scripture says of Jesus, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Freedom begin to surface with an understanding that God knows The Follower better than he knew himself, and that He knows the deep dark secrets in his heart, and He knows the broken and wounded places in his heart, and that He knows when The Follower was going to sin before he actually sinned, and knows how that wounded hearts leads one to make those decisions to sin….and in the midst of it all…He still loves and accepts The Follower. That is truly liberating. Talk about an amazing revelation to the soul of a Christian.
Learning to live loved became the priority. The focus changed. No longer is the day filled with “sin management” but about relationship and re-learning “who God is”. In the midst of this CounterPoint, the wounds of the heart began heal and the habitual, seemingly insurmountable sins began to subside. Now this is not meant to sound easy, because it was not. It remains a challenge. It takes effort, it takes honesty, and it takes effort….did he say that “it takes effort” already?
First, was this powerful the revelation of God’s grace and Unconditional Acceptance.
Second, came the importance of The Brotherhood of Men.
It started with one guy approaching The Follower about getting together over coffee for the purpose of “accountability” (that was all the rage at the time for men’s ministry). Admittedly it took several months before The Follower was certain the new-found friend could be trusted but in taking that step a friendship was formed which grew far beyond simple accountability. It is a true and honest relationship. With these two points in mind, The Follower learned to accept himself as he is today in the comortable knowledge that Christ is the author and finisher of his faith.
So much more to say and the journey is still unfolding. Please return to continue sharing in this journey.