I watch my little boy chasing a balloon around the living room. Gasping in wonder, he bounces everywhere the balloon does. He tips over and bumps his head on a chair while missing the balloon. But he just rubs his head and keeps chasing. He drops the balloon and rolls over backwards. The sunshine coming through the window makes patterns on the floor and his shadow chases him around the room as he follows the balloon.
So often I'm trapped in my spirit. Worrying what people will think. Wanting to keep others happy. Haunted by the questions of "Is this responsible?" or "Am I doing the right thing?" Preoccupied by the never-ending to-do list of my life.
Lately I've been thinking about Jesus' invitation, "Follow me." He invites us to come walk with him. And not just down the road for a day or two, but for the rest of our lives. To relinquish the grasp we have on things, on perceptions, on responsibilities, on fears, and to just walk by his side.
Someone I was talking to recently said that they felt like Jesus was a boss who would fire us if we did anything wrong. I don't blame that person for their limited understanding. Even I who should know so much better live my life that way too often. I find my life is every day about trying harder. Is Jesus going to be happy with me today?
This morning we overslept and almost missed our 8:45 appointment to the chiropractor. We go every other week, so it's not the end of the world if we were to miss, but it's not ideal. Nate said, "You just go; I'll watch Charles." So I sped off at 8:43 toward the office and realized about halfway there I forgot my id card to swipe for my appointment (Charles had taken it out of my purse). Lately I've felt like I've screwed up every appointment I've had there by being late, or forgetting, or such. The condemnation was pouring over my spirit and I thought about our small group discussion last night.
Being a follower of Jesus isn't about trying every day. It's about dying every day. Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."
There is such a difference between trying and dying. Trying means more. Dying means less. Does the idea of less appeal to you as much as it does to me? Every day I'm cramming more into my life. More activities, more attempts at perfection, more people-pleasing, more priorities, then more comfort-seeking to remedy my stress.
When I look at my little boy chasing his balloon I realize his life is full of less. Less stress and more joy. Less worries and more delight. Less failing and more overcoming. He doesn't know anything about following Jesus or dying to himself yet, but he really has no idols to chase after. He just lives.
What are my idols and why do I carry them on my shoulders? Pursuit of perfection. Approval of others. Comfort. They are nothing. Jesus is everything.
I think of his tender compassion and love for me. How he walked the difficult path of life with perseverance, and died a shameful death with unending love, all for me, for us. I want to cry a little in relief. I don't need to try harder.
I get to die daily. And live in the freedom he extends gladly to me.