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Follow the leader

We all need trailblazers to show us how it's done and embolden us to try

Follow the leader

(Illustration by Krieg Barrie)

At Hickory Run State Park we went to see the beautiful cascading Hawk Falls. Some of the teens would not be satisfied with anything less than a full-contact experience. One intrepid young man clawed to the top of the cliff and let his body drop into unknown waters of the natural rock pool below. Others soon followed when they saw it didn't kill him.

It is always useful when someone goes first and doesn't die. We feel grateful that we can fly over the Atlantic in a flying machine-and that Charles Lindbergh tried it first (1927). We are glad to know Mt. Everest can be scaled-and that Sir Edmund Hillary volunteered to prove it (1953). Roger Bannister conquered the 4-minute mile for us all at 3 minutes 59.4 seconds (1954). That was the inspiration Sydney Wooderson needed years later to make his own comeback.

We all need trailblazers.

The Old Testament is full of people who did great things because they didn't know they couldn't. They just knew God was the Creator and that He was great, and that's all they needed to know. Joshua asked God to stop the sun so he could finish up a battle. We are fortunate that Samson asked for a miracle on his last day, before someone could tell him he had lived too wicked a life to expect anything from God. Ten spies said the land of Canaan was unconquerable; Caleb filed the minority report, and God liked his better.

I enjoy having people in my life who put their full weight on all those mundane teachings in the Bible. I want to meet someone who took literally the command to give one of his two coats away (Luke 3:11), and find out whatever became of that guy. Did he regret it afterward? Did he feel he had gone too far?

I want to meet a man who didn't take a person to court when he could have, because he was mindful of Matthew 5:40 and 1 Corinthians 6. How did that work out for him? I want to know a person in a horrible marriage who is sticking with it. I want to ask him: Is God blessing you for that? I praise God that I actually do know a man whose marriage was saved because he read Hosea and extrapolated from it that God wanted him to phone his estranged partner and try again.

Has anyone out there commanded a mountain in his life to move, and it did (Mark 11:23)? Have any married couples engaged in seasons of fasting (1 Corinthians 7:5), and if so, did God bless? If there are churches where elders anoint and pray a "prayer of faith" (James 5:14-15) over the sick, do they see healings? (Seminary professor Vern Poythress did it, and his eye was healed, to the bafflement of Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia. That emboldened me to do the same, and my five-year insomnia was healed.)

What does "binding and loosing" mean, and how do you do it? Does anyone around here invite to Sunday dinner "the poor, crippled, lame, and blind" (Luke 14:13), and has anything surprising come out of that? If you have made up your mind to "become like a little child" because Jesus said so (Matthew 18:3), what is that like for you at stuffy board meetings where the air is thick with pride and poseurs? If you are someone who "count[s] it all joy" (James 1:2) when problems arise, was that weird at first?

Has anyone asked God for more of the Spirit (Luke 11:13) and received it? If you have been seeking to "be led by the Spirit" (Romans 8:14), tell me, how do you distinguish between the Spirit's voice and your own; I want to be mentored by you. Have you ever asked God for a specific spiritual gift and received it (1 Corinthians 14:1)? Can we talk? Did you ever use all those weapons of warfare in an acute attack of temptation and emerge victorious (Ephesians 6)? Did it feel like dying, as it felt for me?

Brother, if you jump off Hawk Falls before me, then I will know it can be done. And I will be right behind you.

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