Franklin P. Jones
In our times of doubt, difficulty, or despair we often find ourselves wishing we could stand in the presence of our Lord in the same way the early disciples did. We imagine how much stronger our faith would be if we could witness the same miracles. We marvel at the wisdom and boldness of Peter, John, Timothy, Paul, Silas, James, and others. However, when we read through the New Testament the lives of these men are not always what we would expect. Their lives still seem to be mixtures of death and life. There seems to have been a time when Peter and Paul may not have been on the best terms. Paul parted ways with his first missionary partner over a disagreement concerning whether John Mark should travel with them or not. Peter had doubts and moments of his legendary impulsiveness from time to time. Yes, they are indeed changed men, but they are far from perfected. They were living through that marvelous thing called experience. In the Christian walk, add in the Holy Spirit and we might even refer to it as sanctification, that process of becoming more like Christ as we journey along in faith.
It turns out that our faith journey is exactly that, a journey. Jesus repeated his call to “Follow me!” many times to those first disciples. It was not a one-time offer. It wasn’t a completed work when Matthew left his tax collecting booth, or when Peter, James, and John left their nets and their boats. Those acts of leaving where more like the one step of backing out of the driveway at the beginning of a cross country vacation. There is still a whole big, long adventure ahead of us.
In one sense, a Christian is not something you became through a call to faith in Jesus Christ. It is something you are becoming. This becoming is a process that will take your whole life, a time filled with tremendous leaps forward, other times when you feel is if you have gone back to the beginning and are starting all over, and still other times when it seems as if you have been marching in place for a very long time. However you look at it, following Christ is the EXPERIENCE of a lifetime and for a lifetime.