Following Behind = Fear
"They were now on the way up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. The disciples were filled with awe, and the people following behind were overwhelmed with fear." (Mark 10:32 NLT) In reading a recent devotional, it occurred to me that those following Jesus were constantly filled with awe...and fear. In this verse, those closest to Jesus were filled with awe, but those following a little further behind we're overwhelmed with fear. We're so used to working to maintain control of our circumstances we're prone to forget who Jesus is, how powerful He is and we begin to trust in our own abilities.
Have you ever taken a lesson to try something exhilarating, new and potentially frightening? It's exhilarating in the lesson, when you hear the teacher and follow their example, but if you get too far away from their instruction, it can become scary quickly, right? Maybe you tried to learn how to ski, snowboard, wakeboard, scuba dive or jumped out of a plane for the first time. For each of us, it's something different, but if you reach a moment where you cannot hear your teacher and realize the circumstances are beyond your control, then fear rushes in.
During a surfing lesson in California, I had one of those moments. First, I feel compelled to protect my pride by saying I know how to swim, love to ride waves in the surf and am always very comfortable in the water. Now, with a shred of my fragile pride in tact, I admit I had one of those moments of terror recently. Trying to learn how to be a cool 40 something surfer, I had reached a point to being tired...really tired. My arms were shaking from paddling out through the surf with a long, beginner's board. I wasn't relaxed and cool. I was fighting the surf and trying to maintain control. Then I wiped out, had the board's leash around my neck and was rolling under the water. My teacher had ridden a wave in and was no longer right by my side. All of a sudden I was alone, the ocean seemed way bigger than me and getting the long board to the shore seemed like more of a challenge than this cool 40 something was up to. The exhilarating was gone and I was left with a little more terror than I'm comfortable owning.
So, when I read this verse the next morning, I could relate to those who were following Jesus from a little further behind and were filled with fear. Following Jesus closely is awe-inspiring from all we see Him do in our lives and in the lives of others. However, when we start trying to control our circumstances, we fall a little further behind and can no longer clearly hear or see our Teacher. Up close, we're totally consumed in seeing our Teacher at work in our lives and we don't notice the challenging circumstances. It's when we fall behind, like Peter out of the boat taking his eyes off of Jesus or this goofball being separated from his surfing instructor, that we begin to see our circumstances without our Teacher and fear rushes in. The key, I think, is to stay close to the Teacher.