Friends, Happy Easter.
I must admit that Holy Week took the stuffing right out of me, as my mom would say. I am still working to recharge my batteries but I want to briefly share some thoughts with you.
On Easter Sunday, after dinner was done and the dishes cleaned, I went online to watch the first episode in Season 2 of The Chosen. In this particular episode, which was amazing by the way, Jesus is speaking with a man who just cannot seem to wrap his mind around the reality in front of him. He does not believe Jesus is the Messiah and nothing is going to change his mind. Absolutely nothing. However, this man is in a bit of a bind because his daughter has been invited to follow Jesus. A choice needs to be made. Does he let his daughter accept the invitation to go with Jesus or not?
During their conversation, the man says to Jesus, “I am not in the habit of believing that a man (he started to say “from Nazareth” but caught himself) performed a miracle. And I’m not in the habit of giving my blessing for our daughter to leave our home. But, I am in your debt. (Jesus saved the reputation of the man’s vineyard by performing a miracle at a wedding. Something about turning water into wine.) The man concludes by saying, “I cannot give you my belief, or my devotion.” Jesus thanks the man for his honesty and responds by saying, “I understand. I ask a lot of those who follow me, but I ask little of those who do not.”
There it is. One sentence. Two small phrases.
The fine print of the invitation.
Jesus couldn’t be any clearer, in the Bible and in this beautiful show (seriously, go watch it when you finish reading this). He knows He asks a lot from those of us who love and follow Him. He knows how difficult and painful and challenging it is. (Oh, and to be clear on this point, He totally gives us stuff we cannot handle, it’s not all for a reason, and it doesn’t always make me stronger. Carrying the weight of devotion has been awful on my knees and my back.)
He knows the road is not easy, but He asks anyway.
And He asks us individually. Don’t you love that Jesus asks each disciple (aka us) to follow Him in such a personal way? He doesn’t send out a group text or a boilerplate email. He doesn’t put a notice up in the marketplace with little tags at the bottom to rip off to call the number for more information. He finds us in the stillness and continues to gently, or not so gently, poke and niggle until we say yes to the invitation. It’s a different experience for all of us when we receive Jesus’ invitation. He is so deeply personal with it. And it’s a lot to RSVP to. He is asking every one of us to believe, to trust, and to follow. To have faith. It’s hard to figure out whether to check off yes, no, or maybe. It’s complicated.
He asks a lot and he knows it.
Yet no matter how many times I’ve selected no on the RSVP card, Jesus sends out another invitation. And other and another, until I finally say yes. Because when it comes right down to it, I would rather follow Jesus than be like the man who cannot give his belief or devotion. Jesus knows this about me, which is why he keeps the invites coming. Some days though, I wish He asked less. Maybe you feel the same way. I get tired and overwhelmed when it feels like Jesus is inviting me on a long, steep rock scramble instead of a gentle walk on the soft sand of the beach. I really hesitate to say yes when the invitation says “make a left at the oak tree and when you find the path that is too long and too steep, you’re there.” Following Him is hard work and we all know it. He knows it. It requires both persistent energy and rest. And since Jesus rested, I think it’s safe for me to do the same. Right now is as good a time as any for a nap because tomorrow another invitation will arrive and I want to be ready to say yes.