Follow Me
Last week, I shared with you Part 1 of a new series at my church called: Am I the Change? This past week, we continued the series…with a specific focus on where we each fit into the change. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” You know, it’s true…so often we see a need but we’re not always willing to get our hands dirty.

As you know, the best way for me to reflect on the message each week is to retell the story here. So with that in mind, let’s dive into the scripture. In John, Chapter 21, Jesus appears to the disciples at the Sea of Galilee. John 21: 14 “This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.” If you’re familiar with the events leading up to Jesus’ death, you know that Peter denied knowing Jesus three times before Jesus was crucified. When Peter sees Jesus, he is noticeably timid and feeling a bit guilty.

Perhaps you’ve been in these types of situations. I know I have. For example, you walk into a room and the entire room gets quiet with your entrance. It’s clear that you are the subject of some sort of gossip. That unspoken tension then becomes the “elephant in the room” until it’s addressed…if it’s ever addressed. These types of situations have a tendency to cause divide amongst friends – at least that’s my experience. Jesus is much more forgiving though and he immediately addresses Peter. John 21:15-19 says: 
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”  (referring to the other disciples)
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” 
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”  
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” 
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”  Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” 
He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” 
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
IMG_5447-Follow Me
Here’s what I gather from the exchange between Jesus and Peter: Past failures don’t disqualify us from doing great things for God. At this point, Peter is feeling pretty guilty about denying Jesus in the moments leading up to his crucifixion. If I put myself in Peter’s shoes…I know exactly how he feels…I mean, he blew it when Jesus needed him the most! 

It kind of reminds me (a stretch, but hang with me) of a recent Bachelorette episode – maybe you saw the two-part episode that started with a Flash Mob and ended with Bentley leaving the show. During that episode, several of the bachelors participate in a “Roast.” A roast is an event in which an individual (in this case, Ashley) is subjected to a public presentation of comedic insults, praise, outlandish true and untrue stories, and heartwarming tributes, the implication being that the roastee is able to take the jokes in good humor and not as serious criticism or insult, and therefore, show their good nature.

All is going well until William, the 30 year old cellular phone salesman (who thinks he’s a comedian), decides to take it to another level and says, “Ashley, so beautiful, so gorgeous, so used. They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I thought I was signing up to be with Emily or Chantal, but then Ashley’s here, so…” Granted, Bentley was thinking the same thing but William really put his foot in his mouth. As a result, William feels so bad about what he’s done that he disappears for the night in embarrassment.

Much like William, Peter was often said to only open his mouth to change foot. Here’s the difference…Peter doesn’t run and hide (or kill himself as Judas did). He allows God to forgive him. If you look at many of the biblical characters, there’s hardly a man or woman who hasn’t royally screwed up…Peter included. Moses was known to be a murderer, David (a man after God’s own heart) became an adulterer, Mary Magdalene was formerly a prostitute, and then of course we have the story of Peter. Whoever came up with the idea that you had to be perfect to be used by God? 

Matthew 9:12-13, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” When we are at our lowest, God is doing his best work within us.
IMG_5465 RS
Here’s the thing though, when we accept Jesus’ request to follow him, life isn’t necessarily going to be easy. Luke 9:58-58 says,  “As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Jesus basically is saying that if you decide to follow me (Jesus), things will change in your life. If you’ve already accepted Christ, just think about your own life has changed…your attitude, your behavior, your response to materialistic things, your relationships, etc. Following Jesus isn’t easy, but he calls for us to follow him (John 21:19, “Follow me!”) and continue following him – this is how we become the change. Continuing the story…John 21:20-23 says,
Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved (John) was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” 
Jesus answered, If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”
At this point, Jesus is faced with the comparison dilemma…you know what I’m talking about, “what about Bob?” [Sorry, it was way too easy.] We all do it, but comparing ourselves to others gets in the way of our obedience as well as our ability to make a difference. Furthermore, it makes us bitter. In John 21:22, Jesus basically tells Peter to “mind his own business.” You see, God may call us to do something significant (either locally or globally), but it may mean that we have to walk away from the comforts of home. It can be really tempting to become bitter when we hear that someone else has gotten a better gig, but remember the words of Isaiah 55:8, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” As long as we compare our spiritual walk to others, we’ll never see the beauty of God’s plan for us because it is “far beyond anything you could imagine.” 

How do we get over ourselves and follow him? It starts with admitting you have a problem and confessing it openly. More importantly, we must remind ourselves that we have a personal relationship with Jesus and only worry about that relationship…not others’. With that said, my minister ended our lesson with a poem called “The Road of Life.” I thought I’d also share it here.
The Road of Life RS
I know this image is a little hard to read – click on it to see the full size version.
Are you learning to shut up, pedal and follow him? Or are you still riding the same, boring and predictable route?
By the way, if you’re looking for some good tunes, click HERE to listen to “The Altar” by Nichole Nordeman or click HERE to listen to “So Long Self” by Mercy Me. Also, don’t forget to enter Week 3 of my Thank You Giveaway series sponsored by A Bit of Whimsy. Comments close tonight at midnight. Oh and another thing…come back on Friday to see more of my session with Casey. Have a great Tuesday!
Giveaway at Ramblings and Photos

    great post Ashley! Thanks for sharing. It really hit home as we are in the midst of some really huge changes. Changes that came sooner than I was expecting. It seems that God has a higher opinion of me than I do myself :) But I guess that’s how he works; to keep me dependent on him :)

    Ashley…your writing is equal to your beautiful pictures. Thank you for sharing your faith…

    Another wonderful word from you, Ashley! Thank you!

    P.S. Another really interesting thing about Peter being asked 3 times by Jesus if he loved Him: in the first two responses by Peter, he used the Greek word for love that represents friendship type of love…in the third and final response, he used agape…TOTAL, consuming love. Jesus kept asking until he got the right answer! Gotta thank Beth Moore for that insight!

    These are some of my favorite posts. Well done.

    I love this post and I love the photos. Casey is such a beautiful model.

    wonderful post :) so inspiring. and the photos are just as beautiful as your words

    Great post all around. Those shots are stunning, but the first one should be in a frame!!

    “failures do not disqualify us from doing great things for God.” Ah, I LOVE great one-liners. I will ponder this one for days, you might find it in a blog of mine soon ;)

    OH Ash, this was incredible!

    I love that story about Peter. And to think when Jesus returned he told them to go tell Peter!!

    Thanks how much He loved him and forgave him.

    I’m so blessed to know He’s there with open arms, as long as we come back.

    I want to always follow hard after HIM.

    Love the pictures too.

    Hope you have a great day!

    GREAT post!!

    You know what jumped out at me? The “What is that to you?”. We shouldn’t be comparing ourselves with others, our job is to keep our eyes on Christ, and Follow Him.

    Me likey! :D

    Oh, I’m so glad I popped by today. Beautifully written Ashley…..from an equally beautiful heart.

    What a beautiful post Ahsley, you’re truly a beautiful person inside & out :) & lol @ the Bachelorette, so true!

    Okay, gorgeous pics as always and aside from the fact that I’m still jealous that all you NC people keep getting together without me, this post is just wonderful. Beautiful writing and very profound.

    Lovely portraits, Ashley! You are so talented!

    I love it that you take the time and effort to put together these posts. I love this.

    Great post. I look forward to reading these each week.

    What perfect timing. Right now I am at a crossroads and I know I need to just follow, even though it is into the unknown. All I know, is it is time to follow. Great photos too.

    Wonderful post and gorgeous photos…

    Stunning;y beautiful post & using these beautiful images of Casey is perfect to illustrate the message. I’m MOVED!!!!!!!!

    BTW- I could never do a roast- I could never say things like that to another person, nor could I handle hearing those things about myself. I already have enough of those thoughts in my own head- I wouldn’t want them validated by others. What a mental trip that would be-

    I’m blown away again. Love this. I may come back and read it 100 times today.

    You hit the nail on the head so perfectly!

    Simply FOLLOW ME!

    Love this post start to finish!

    Great job Ashley!

    Awesome in every way!

    Nice photos. I think I like the first one with the “flippie floppies” the best.

    I’m learning to take little steps, day by day, and let Him be my guide…

    Beautifully written! I think the part that sticks out to me the most is when you said that Past Failures don’t stop us from doing good works for God now. We seem to forget that all too often and allow the past to hold us back. Thanks for sharing this!!

    love this Ashley… and LOVED that bachelorette episode too :)

    loved this post.. beautiful pics

    AMEN! It is so hard at times to let go and follow Him, but it is so worth giving up being the leader!

    And I LOVE “So Long Self” by Mercy Me!! They rock it with that one! :)

    That was beautiful, the writing the photos. . .all of it! You continue to inspire me! Thanks for sharing it all!

    Great post and beautiful selfies!

    Lovely post Ashley. :)

    Beautiful pictures ~ but more to the point, beautiful words!! :-)

    She is a beautiful subject. I have taken pictures of my friends that I think “Does she do a bad picture?”. I bet the same is true for Casey.

    Great post!

    Gorgeous shots!

    “What is that to you?” Very powerful reminder as the road God has me on goes a different direction than my friends. Always love these posts.

    Every time you do these posts I smile because you are unashamed to share the gospel message in love with all who are inspired by you. God is being glorified and you are shining in the process. I really love what you have been doing with the pictures…now I’m nervous about editing mine! haha. Beautiful post Ashley!

    Excellent post! Right now at work, I am really being stretched and challenged. This was very timely for me, to remember to just “pedal” and let Him guide my path. Thank you for sharing such a heartfelt post!

    again…another great post. I wished that I can write as well as you. Thanks for sharing your faith with me.

    Very timely post (for me). I am one of those who have “royally” messed up in life. It took me a long time to realize/know/believe I am forgiven- my past is in the past and I can move on toward the future God has for me…

    Thanks for sharing your faith!

    Nice photos. I like them a lot.

    Great post!!

    Great post! I’ve got some big changes underway (baby and house) and it tends to really stress me out at times but I know that God isn’t giving me anything I can’t handle. It’s also easy to start comparing myself to my friends…. I’ve just got to trust Him and follow Him.

    luv this. great word. gorgeous imagess 2

    Beautiful post! The shots are stunning and you get such a good feeling when looking at them. The first one is my favourite.

    Erika B

    Ashley you do such a great job sharing your faith – this is another good example. I like the simple message – Follow Me. It’s nice to be reminded that that’s what He wants of us.

    I find that I follow all the time. Naturally, and sometimes I take it for granted. The kids lead me, too. Their questions right now are amazing. I pray that I answer in just the right way or that they see me pray in just the right way that they may “pedal” right along with God, too.

    Your light shines bright Ashley. Lovin this post!

    God has given you so many talents, and I love it when they are intertwined in these weekly posts. For a moment I thought that was you sitting on the dock, but nope, it’s another beautiful soul! How fun that you share your passions together.

    “Past failures don’t disqualify us from doing great things for God.” now that really made me cry. Thanks for being God’s instrument… Me hopping to this post and reading this made me feel this is God’s message for me. Thanks a lot, Ashley.

    beautiful photo’s!

    I’m just now getting to this post and I wish it was something I’d read earlier. It’s beautiful!