the penultimate WORD
Series 1999 - July Canon Jim Irvine
"I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say…"

 

"I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say…"
Luke 9:61

I am struck by the clarity of the voice of God when I allow the scriptures to speak to me. As that voice has grown to take on the person and character of Jesus, I have discovered with what graciousness he has spoken to me…

Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown, will you let my name be known,
Will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?

Jesus’ invitation has challenged me in my day to day struggle. His call has not been in response to my meagre achievements and successes. His call has been a disarming initiative, inviting me to follow him. Knowing my inadequacy, I echo others’ voices, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say…" And avoidance prevails.

Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare should your life attract or scare?
Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me?

Jesus continues to press hard, and make the choice clear. I cannot care for cruel and kind; I dare not never be the same! I hesitate under the hostile stare because my life attracts and scares… and my confidence is diminished! Imagine! To think that I might be instrumental as an answer to prayer! I answer furtively, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say…" And avoidance prevails.

Will you let the blinded see if I but call your name?
Will you set the prisoners free and never be the same?
Will you kiss the leper clean and do such as this unseen,
And admit to what I mean in you and you in me?

Because Jesus calls my name, I can allow the blind to see? I can let the blind see? I can loose the bonds that hold others prisoner? I can kiss the unattractive, and touch lives with restorative love… me? And that I might have the grace to accomplish this without recognition and reward? Can’t be me! And can I admit to what God-in-Jesus-in-you means to me? And to what God-in-Jesus-in-me can mean to you? My voice hesitates, and I hear myself saying, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say…" And avoidance prevails.

Will you love the "you" you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you’ve found to reshape the world around,
Through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?

I hear myself defensively saying, "I’m not hiding… I’m not afraid." Inadequate, furtive, hesitant, I recognize avoidance and the unconvincing deception of my argument. The cliché defends the frightened. Jesus’ words reach beyond the tired phrase and touch me: alone, and in need of his company. Recognizing Jesus’ personal invitation, and shared opportunities that lie ahead, I hear my voice again, now saying, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say…"

Lord, your summons echoes true when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.
In your company I’ll go where your love and footsteps show.
Thus I’ll move and live and grow in you and you in me.

Copyright © 1999 James T. Irvine
"Will You Come and Follow Me" by John L. Bell, Common Praise copyright © 1998 General Synod Anglican Church of Canada

Series 1999