Follow God–Not Fellow Christians

We should follow God, not fellow Christians. via @blestbutstrest
“You can only go on the hike if you promise to obey me the first time, Ella,” I told her. “It’s not safe to take you if you don’t listen to me.” She nodded her head solemnly and smiled her sweet smile.

Minutes earlier, she had disobeyed me when I asked her to return to the area where I supervised the students waiting for the afternoon hike, and I needed to know that she would listen to me. I hadn’t had a lot of interaction with her, because I teach high school and she’s in the first grade.

A month ago, Ella drew a darling picture of my daughter Sarah, who works as a teacher’s aide in her classroom. Sarah hung the drawing on our refrigerator. Based on Ella’s gift and her promise, I felt certain that I could trust her to obey. I should have known better.

She followed her brother Eddie throughout the entire hike, mimicking his every move. If he stopped to throw big rocks at the icy river below, she found a bigger rock and heaved it with her spindly little arms. If I called them away from a dangerous-looking edge, or told them to take a different route, she always responded last—regardless of our agreement before the hike.

And now, as I concentrated on making sure that a group of teenage boys would make it safely to the top of the bluff, I saw her round a narrow ledge on the rocks. Her ponytail swung from side to side and she looked determined to take the impossible route. Her brother tugged her hand, “No, Ella,” he said, “we can’t go this way.” She frowned and went back around the rock and came down to where I stood—at a narrow crevice that led to the top of the bluff.

Eddie scrambled up first, and ducked under a rock that was wedged into the crevice. The teenagers they imitated had managed to pull themselves over the big rock, but their arms lacked the strength. Rather than give up, he squeezed his little body into a small hole and pushed himself up to the surface. “Come on, Ella,” he called, “you can do it.”

I spotted her from below, and watched the intense determination on her face as she squeezed through and pulled herself to the top. I had to turn around and find a different route to the top of the bluff—I couldn’t fit through the hole and nor could I pull myself over the big rock.

By the time we reached the end of the hike, I was exhausted from herding students (note to self, next time, hike in a forest with a trail and tell everyone to stay on it—this hiking across the desert and ‘exploring’ rock formations and rivers with rambunctious students is for the birds!). In addition, I couldn’t believe the number of times Ella ignored me—always wanting to try the hardest way that the biggest kids took or staying after everyone else to throw the last rock off the bluff.

I confess to feeling downright angry with her. On the bus ride back, though, I had a little time to think.

How often do I tell God that I’m going to do exactly what he says I should do? I promise to obey him, to love him and to trust him, and then I rush off and follow the path that someone else has taken—completely ignoring the still, small voice that whispers in my mind, “That’s not YOUR path, go this way.”

I rely on the latest book or blog of a successful brother or sister in Christ to guide me, instead of digging deeper into the Good Book to guide me. Don’t get me wrong—there’s nothing wrong with being encouraged by the stories of other Christians as they share their journey and what worked for them. But all too often I get caught up in how someone else is doing it and think I have to make my journey over to match the journey described in a book—and that’s a cop out.

I become hyper-focused on what I think I should do, and completely ignore the One who knows what’s best for me.

I forget that I should follow God, not a fellow Christian.

I get ‘journey envy’ and forget that my journey will never look exactly like someone else’s journey. Click To Tweet We each have to learn to obey God’s voice on our own. So this week I’m going deeper and getting to know him better. Join me?

Inspire Me Monday Instructions

What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your most inspirational post from the previous week (just ONE, please).

2. Vist TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

3. Spread the cheer THREE ways! Tweet something from a post you read, share a post on your Facebook page, stumble upon it, pin it or whatever social media outlet you prefer–just do it!

Please link back to this week’s post or add the button to your post so that we can spread the inspirational cheer :).

I found inspiration for my Monday at #inspirememondays. Join us! (tweet this)

So, go ahead! Take the plunge and share your most inspiring post with us!

Take a moment to visit the other hostesses, too! Angie, Cindy, and Denise.

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a ‘recovering cancer caregiver’ who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

Please note: We reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Anita – wonderful insights! This right here hit deeply >> “my journey will never look exactly like someone else’s journey.” He works in our lives personally & individually. So grateful that while it is my journey alone, I never journey alone. Glad to be here with you this morning! Happy Monday!
    Joanne Viola recently posted…Make It A Better WorldMy Profile

    • And I’m so glad you join us each week :). Thank you for your kind words, my friend.
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Feeling Guilty?My Profile

  • I cringed reading all this because I have a 1st grader and we do go hiking often, but I also end up nearly having a hard attack when we are near ledges! This story speaks so much though. You are absolutely right about the our tendencies to want to veer off and check out someone else’s path.
    Messy Mom recently posted…It’s Potty TimeMy Profile

    • I learned a lot from my husband back when our girls were little about letting them be brave (within the bounds of safety, of course ;)). It’s so important to let them explore–and to keep them safe. A very fine balance!
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Feeling Guilty?My Profile

  • I often say “I follow Christ… not Christian.” Thank you for talking through this with us.
    Wendy recently posted…when brothers have different love languagesMy Profile

    • I love it! I am a Christ follower first of all. Everything else is just…well, everything else!
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Feeling Guilty?My Profile

  • Journey envy is just another way we compare ourselves to others which of course never ends well. Thanks for reminding me to keep my eyes on Jesus. Thanks for hosting the link up.
    Tobi@SimplyJesus recently posted…Why Being in the Presence of Jesus Changes Everything. {Woman at the Well – John 4}My Profile

  • I loved how you pulled a real life situation to remind you how we act towards God. I used to wonder how the Israelites continued to disobey. God was there with them in the wildrness and they still kept saying I got this. I realized. I am so often like the Israelities. Continually forgetting God’s promises.
    Amanda recently posted…Why FFL RocksMy Profile

    • Amen. Some days, I feel more Israelite than others, you know what I mean?
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Feeling Guilty?My Profile

  • Yes, my journey will not look exactly like someone elses. Boy did I need to read that. So easy to get caught up in “journey envy”. I love that her brother helped her at the end away from where they weren’t suppose to be.
    Tara recently posted…We HungerMy Profile

    • 🙂 We’re all just a big team, and we need to remember that each journey has a purpose and must look different!
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Feeling Guilty?My Profile

  • Ha… “Journey envy”… yes… I have had to battle that one from time to time as well, my friend! Great post!
    ~Karrilee~ recently posted…How Wonder just keeps showing up…My Profile

  • I love this message–follow God, not fellow Christians. And beautiful descriptions of the hike, even if it was a complicated one to herd kids on. 😉
    Laura recently posted…Five Tips On Getting Things DoneMy Profile

    • Herding kids reminds me of herding cats… ;). Thanks for stopping by, Laura!
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Feeling Guilty?My Profile

  • What a wonderful story – there’s so many things I see here – and one is about how let’s us wrestle things out on our own, go our own way – but he’s there, like you were, to shepherd us back, to help us when we just can’t – and finally realize it! I love that you took them to the more challenging place – that was a God-thing!

    • Amen! I love how God gives us perfect freedom–but he’s always waiting with his arms open wide to receive us.
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Feeling Guilty?My Profile

  • For me, this is a very timely message. Thank you for the reminder to stay focused – Eyes on Jesus – and listening for His voice of wisdom to direct my path.
    There’s something I have wanted for a long, long time…to leave the 9 to 5, and go into full time ministry, including writing. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing. But if it’s not God’s thing for me…then it’s wrong for me.
    I’m just as stubborn and tenacious as that little girl you described. I wonder….am I listening or am I insisting on my own way?
    Thank you, Anita!
    Lisa Brittain recently posted…Five Minute Friday*With Kate Motaung*ShareMy Profile

    • I understand all about being stubborn and tenacious! I’m learning to listen more and act more slowly. I do know that when I pray that my desires be remodeled in to what God desires for me, it’s a lot easier to be patient!
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Feeling Guilty?My Profile

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  • Hi Anita, this is inspiring. God should be our focus and not man. God Bless you and your team.
    Ifeoma Samuel recently posted…DEALING WITH EMBARRASSING ISSUESMy Profile