Follow Me - Janae Wellum
Learning Daily to Follow the Lord Jesus in my Life
On January 1, 2019, I had the privilege of finding myself sitting at the Sea of Galilee in Israel. As I looked out at the Sea, what amazed me that this was the exact same Sea where Jesus walked on water, taught his disciples, and came as the eternal Son to save us from our sins by going to Jerusalem and dying on a cross and being raised from the dead for us. I was simply in awe, reflecting on these wonderful truths, and rejoicing in God’s grace to me in bringing me to faith in Christ and calling me to serve Him.
As I sat by the Sea of Galilee, I was also reading John 21. I was struck by Jesus’ question to Peter: “Simon, son of John do you love more than these?” (John 21:15). We know the context of this passage. On the night Jesus was betrayed, Peter, who promised to never leave Jesus, denied him three times. Now after the cross and resurrection, Jesus was calling Peter back into service by asking him three times: “Simon, do you love me?” In many ways, Jesus pressed Peter with this question not only to reinstate him, but to force Peter to remember what is most important in following Jesus: to love him first and foremost. Peter could never serve the Lord and his Church without first loving the Lord Jesus more than anything else, even his own life.
Even as the story unfolds, it becomes quite dramatic. Jesus commands Peter to feed his sheep, namely Christ’s people, the Church. But Jesus also reminds Peter that his life is not his own, and that in his service for the Lord and the Church, Peter will eventually have to give up his very life. Jesus says to Peter: “Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go. (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, Follow Me” (John 21:18-19).
What struck me about this passage, as I sat where Jesus had once walked, was that what Jesus called Peter to be and do, Jesus was also calling me to follow as well. The truth of the matter is that our Lord Jesus calls all of us to love him first and to follow him wherever he calls us to go and to serve him. Jesus promises Peter (and all of us, including me!) that he will be utterly faithful, and it is our job to follow Jesus with our entire lives.
As I returned from Israel in early January, my prayer to the Lord became what he taught me beside the Sea of Galilee from his Word: Lord, help me to put you first and wherever you ask me to go, help me to gladly and lovingly follow you!
The Fellowship at Sky Ranch
All of this now brings me to the Fellowship at Sky Ranch. On January 1 of this year, I did not know what the Lord had planned for me by the summer of 2019 and for the upcoming year, but I knew that he would be faithful and lead me every step of the way.
In May, I graduated from University with my diploma in hand. It was such a wonderful time of rejoicing knowing that my hard work of the last four years had paid off and I had now finally graduated. After shaking the President’s hand of my university, I did not fully know what lay ahead of me in the summer and now as I write this blog, I can now testify of the Lord’s daily provision, faithfulness, and strength to follow him.
After graduation, I hopped into my car and drove to beautiful Colorado to serve as a Counselor at Sky Ranch Horn Creek, and what an experience it was! As I worked at Horn Creek for the summer, I felt like a sponge because I had so much to learn. My experience of working with so many devoted people, serving so many wonderful people, and following the Lord wherever he was leading, was so precious and rewarding. The Lord taught me so much about him, others, and myself on a random mountain in Westcliffe, Colorado! My prayer from January in Israel was being answered, as the Lord led and directed my path.
After the summer was complete, I then headed to Van, Texas to start the Fellowship for one year. Before I arrived in Texas, I first drove back to my Old Kentucky Home, where I saw many of my friends from home. Repeatedly, I was asked about my future plans, and I had to say over and over again: I am looking to the Lord to lead and direct my life. He has called me to follow him, and that is what I am doing, even though I am not sure where he will lead me long term.
Now I am in Van, Texas at Sky Ranch for the one year adventure of the Fellowship. I can remember arriving on August 13, and as I pulled into Sky Ranch saying to the Lord: “Lord, please continue to lead me as you have promised because I want to follow you!” But even as I look back over these last two months, I can already see how the Lord has been so faithful in loving me, caring for me, and directing my steps.
At Sky Ranch, I have not only been given 13 new best friends in the Fellowship program, but I have been stretched in a wonderful way. I have taken Lifeguard training and passed my certification! I am now a Level 1 Ropes Certified instructor, plus much more. Every day I am learning anew to follow the Lord and finding him faithful in my life. I cannot help but feel like Peter, at least just a little, and finding that the Lord is so good to those who follow him. Just as the Lord asked Peter long ago: “Do you love me?”—he is also asking me daily the same question.
This is not to say that following the Lord is easy. At Sky Ranch, I am learning to be challenged in ways I had not imagined before. Before the Fellowship, I had not handled snakes, or taught fifth graders about decomposition, but in all of these areas the Lord is teaching me to follow him. There is nothing more important for me to learn, or any Christian to learn, than the lesson that the Lord Jesus is worthy of our lives and service, and that to follow him is to be in the best place, no matter where he places us.
Lord, thank you for showing me this lesson at the Sea of Galilee in January, and daily reminding me of it as I have the joy and privilege of serving you at Sky Ranch.
- Janae Wellum