This past week Vicki and I enjoyed a motorcycle ride down the Loess Hills Scenic Byway. If you’re not familiar with the Loess Hills, it’s a unique land formation of windblown silt called “loess” which extends nearly 200 miles in a narrow band adjacent to the Missouri River Valley. The Scenic Byway begins in Akron, Iowa and ends in Hamburg, Iowa and in addition there are a number of loops that we could venture on along the way.
The weather for our trip was perfect for motorcycling and because there was a mini motorcycle rally in the Moorhead, Iowa area, we encountered hundreds of other motorcyclists along the winding road. For the most part, the hills were filled with pastureland, trees, corn and soybean fields.
We were really enjoying our ride until a few miles south of Interstate 680 we were notified by some signs that a bridge was out and the road was closed. The weird thing was, there was no detour offered. From the map on my phone we could either take a five mile detour on gravel, or we could turn around and get on the Interstate and reconnect with the byway after traveling through Council Bluffs.
We had a choice to make, and neither of the two options looked that good to me. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to drive my motorcycle on five miles of gravel, nor did I relish the thought of navigating my way through Council Bluffs without really knowing where we were going. So what did we do? We abandoned our journey and decided to go visit Vicki’s sister in Norfolk, Nebraska instead.
After making the choice to abandon our original plans, I began to question my decision. Really, one minor little road block, and I choose to give up the exciting journey we were on. I guess I really wasn’t that committed to our journey was I.
As we road further, I thought about the time when many of Jesus’ followers encountered a road block. The story is found in John 6. The movement of Jesus’ followers was really building momentum. With great excitement, hundreds if not thousands of people began their exciting journey with Jesus. And then Jesus threw up this little road block, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in him. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life…Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” (If you go to a Viking’s game this year, I dare you to take a sign that says “John 6:53”).
After hearing Jesus words, it says in John 6:66, “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” What, one challenging teaching and they abandoned their life changing journey with Jesus. If you’re familiar with the story then you know many of the people thought Jesus was calling them to participate in cannibalism. And yet that’s not what Jesus was referring to. He was simply saying, “If you’re going to follow me then you must embody my life. My message must become your message. My way of life must become your way of life. The way I serve and love must become the way you serve and love.”
And how about you, in making the choice to follow Jesus, have you given him permission to live out his life through you? Do you find some of Jesus’ teaching’s about commitment offensive? Are there areas in which you were once committed, but since have turned back?
May it be said of us that once we decide to walk with Jesus, we never turn back.
In the dust of the Rabbi, Mike