If I were to ask you to complete this sentence: "I dare you to follow...", what would your choice of words be? Chances are if you are a millennial (aged 34 and below, according to Google) you may answer: "follow your heart; your dreams; your ambition; your passions etc." Our generation is constantly bombarded with platitudes like these, we have been urged to "find something you like doing and you will never have to work another day in your life" (because nobody is hiring in that area).
This is probably spurred by our consumption of "feel-good-and-seemingly-wise" articles on Thought Catalog, Elite Daily and so forth. Maybe we even hear it in our churches occasionally: "God wants to fulfil your dreams!". We are a generation with so many options, more so than those before us. Some industries that exist today were unheard of 5-10 years ago. Yet amidst the myriad of options available to us, a generation has never ever felt so lost.
We try to comfort ourselves a little by romanticising this: "not all who wonder are lost", yet the truth is many people feel disenchanted, paralysed by uncertainty and plagued by indecision. What should I study? Where should I go? How do I get a good job? Who should I be with? Why can't I be sure of anything? Compounding matters is this phenomenon called "Social Media". We compare our lives to the extremely curated profiles of people we admire, whose lives we dream of living.
Now, it sounds like i have downed a big juice of pessimism for breakfast which has turned me into a Negative Nancy - but hear me out. There is nothing wrong with following your heart and dreams per se, but to you reading this: I issue you a greater challenge:
I dare you to follow Jesus.
Wholeheartedly. Without reservation. Consistently and persistently.
Will there be fortune on the other side? Not really. Will I feel better about myself? Depends. Will all my dreams come through? Subjective. Is this venture "Instagrammable"? Probably not. Will it be easy peasy? Far from it. Geez! Why would anyone do this then? That is a good question, and it is logical to want to know what the benefit would be before actually doing something.
When you follow Jesus, you may not get all that you want. BUT... you will be guaranteed to have all that you need.
There are some very intriguing words by Jesus found in Matthew 7:13-14:
If I were to rephrase that, it would sound like this: "The path to true contentment and purpose is not the obvious road. It is the one that looks the least likely to lead anywhere. It will barely make any sense when you first see it, therefore not many people will go that way. But those who actually do will find true life."
When you truly give your all to follow Him, boy do things change! He transforms your mind, renews your perspective, heals your heart. You begin to see everything differently, you begin to understand, you are filled with HOPE. I now know why the Bible says that we are a "new creation" when you believe in Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). I can barely begin to describe it. I can scarcely do it justice with my words. You have to experience it for yourself.
If you are thinking: "sounds great, but how does this help me practically?" How do I get the answers, resources and opportunities I need? To which I will tell you of the promise of Jesus: "Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." (Matthew 6:25-34) This is the paradox of it all: if you try to make your life, you will end up breaking it. But if you lose yourself in Jesus, you will find yourself again.
Sometimes the more we try to figure out things on our own the more we end up feeling lost. So here is my challenge to you: let go and let God. Cease all striving and simply start living. Don't dwell on the past or idealise the future, just live in the present - God's way. Be kind to those around you, forgive those who hurt you, help those in need, worship with all your heart, believe in what you read in the Bible, work hard, be grateful for what you have, cherish those around you.
Why? Because here is the secret: "When you follow the ways of God you will always flow into the will of God."
That is the greatest of all paradoxes and biggest of all challenges. It does not make any sense, but it absolutely works. Trust me. When you live by faith and not by sight (or feeling, or compulsion, or by ideas, or by anything else) - you will always see the other side of breakthrough. When you live by faith, doors that you knock on will be opened. Opportunities that you never imagined possible will suddenly become a reality.
God rewards a lifestyle of faith (Hebrews 11:6): faith to live by the principles of God, faith to trust God for better, faith that God has a purpose in all things.
Following Jesus is neither an event nor a destination. It is a process, a journey. A daily affair. A step by step thing. That is the challenge. To live every single day so conscious of Him, so in step with Jesus, so inline with His Spirit. Don't confine a relationship with Jesus to the weekends. Make time for personal prayer and worship. Make room for those private moments where it is just Jesus and you.
So whatever stage of life you are at now: a crossroads, figuring out your next step, confused and having no direction, worried and anxious, starting a new phase of life - a new challenge I give you: I dare you to follow Jesus