Chapter 6: Following the Lamb

Note: This is the sixth in a series of letters written for those who are alive in Jesus at the end of the age. Once complete, I’ll combine them into a book. You can access the previous chapters here.  If you are not already subscribed to this blog and want to make sure you don’t miss any, you can add your name here.

“I don’t hear you talk a lot about obedience, and that’s all I heard growing up. If I’m not obedient to God, he won’t bless me. I’ve heard so many things God expects of me that I just can’t do it all. How important do you think obedience is to God?
Lael, single, ski instructor and trail guide in the Rockies


I’m so glad to hear you’re still out on the Colorado trails, taking in that beauty every day. Does it ever get old?

I love your question; obeying Jesus is more for our benefit than for his. The reason you don’t hear me use that word a lot is because it is so weighted with religious expectations that people miss the real invitation. Many see obedience like a child doing what they are told, often against their will, or even with hostility. Others, like you, think of it as obeying all the Scriptures, and are overwhelmed by how far short they fall.

Obedience to Jesus isn’t like either of those things, which is why I use different terminology. I talk about learning to rest in his love and about following him, which is obedience by a better name.

Let me illustrate through one of the most engaging days I’ve ever experienced. It happened on a visit to the home of C.S. Lewis, called The Kilns in Oxford, England. A couple of friends took me there, as I was doing a seminar in nearby Wales. A young, American student living in the home was to be our guide. When we arrived, however, she said she was happy to do the tour, but if we could wait thirty minutes, we would be in for a treat. We had no idea what she meant, but we were intrigued enough to take her up on the offer.

She ushered us in to Lewis’s library and told us to make ourselves comfortable. We gawked wide-eyed at his books and the desk where he wrote. Eventually, two men came into the house and entered the study. After a brief introduction of first names, the older of the two men started telling us about the house, but in surprisingly intimate terms. He talked of conversations with Lewis and shared anecdotes of their relationship, which was warm and humorous.

It took me a while to work out who he was but when I did, I gasped. This was Walter Hooper, Lewis’s secretary in his later years, and the editor of his posthumous works; I had read many of his books about Lewis. For the next hour and a half, we walked the house and grounds with him. It was the tour of a lifetime, not just of the home but into the mind and manner of Lewis himself, from someone who knew him well and had spent much time with him.

Following Jesus in this world is much like following Walter Hooper around The Kilns, only way better. Jesus doesn’t just know God; he is God. He partnered in the creation of the world and knows exactly how it functions and how the life of his Father finds its way into the chaos of its brokenness to redeem us out of it. Who wouldn’t want to follow him?


Wherever He Goes

“They follow the Lamb wherever he goes.” (Revelation 14:4)

From the first time I heard those words at a very young age, they captured me. For reasons I couldn’t explain, they caused my heart to soar with the thrill of adventure. What would it be like to follow the Lamb wherever he goes?

As I grew older, however, and became more schooled in the performance demands of Christianity, the words became less inviting and more ominous. Instead of following Jesus, I learned to obey the Scriptures, thinking them the same thing. And while I tried to do that, it took a long time for me to realize I was trying to apply the interpretations of the Bible by those who saw it as a rule book to appease God. The thrill of adventure vanished as I became a rule-keeper instead of a Jesus-follower. I felt constrained by admonitions such as, “love your enemies,” “die daily,” and “lay down your life.” It seemed God always wanted the worst thing for me, and trying to do that on my own was fraught with frustration and failure.

Even still, wanting to ingratiate myself to Jesus in my late teens, I gave Jesus a global “yes,” telling him I would follow him—even if I didn’t like it, even if it cost me my life, even though no one went with me. Of course, I mostly failed, but I would repent and try harder the next time, aspiring to be the most radical Christian I knew. Unfortunately, it often led me to think better of myself than I merited, and to looking down on those who weren’t working as hard.

My first real surrender to him was over my career. At eighteen, I wanted to be an air traffic controller, but I had moments where I felt “called to ministry,” words I wouldn’t use in that context today. During my senior year of high school, through an extraordinary circumstance, God confirmed to me that he wanted me to teach the Scriptures. So, with some disappointment I went off to earn a Bible degree, and afterwards went into pastoral ministry.

Following him at this stage often came with regret and fear as to what he might ask of me. After all, the words about following the Lamb wherever he goes comes from the book of Revelation, for many, the most terrifying book in the New Testament. John is describing the 144,000 whom God puts his seal on before the tribulation of the last days. There are 12,000 from each tribe of Israel. Who are they? I’m not sure, to be honest. Some say they are redeemed Israelites; others say they are a metaphor for those who will be saved at the end. I’m not sure either of those is correct, especially since Revelation 7 describes another multitude in white robes too numerous to count who come out of the great tribulation as well.

Many have tried to turn this 144,000 into a special class of Christian; I’m making no such claim here. God knows who they are, and what role they will have in the end, but how John describes them is how I want to live:

“These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as first fruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.” (Revelation 14:4-5)

“Defiled by women,” is an unfortunate interpretation of those words. Women don’t defile men, and I don’t think the encouragement here is only for males. He may be addressing certain people who in the last day are virgins, but it’s a strange conclusion that God’s gift of sexuality, properly embraced, defiles someone. The appeal here is most likely for sexual purity.

“No lie was found in their mouths.” I love that. The most painful conflicts I’ve had have come from people who don’t know what’s true or refuse to live in it. They lie under pressure and spread misinformation to gain leverage over others. We’ll talk about the passion for truth in a future chapter.

But the gold here is found in this simple expression: “They follow the Lamb wherever he goes.” I love the simplicity of those words. They don’t have to get everything right, they are not perfect, gifted, specially anointed, or powerful people. They just follow the Lamb wherever he goes. Simple? In concept, yes. I only need to see him in my life and follow what he reveals. But simple isn’t always easy.

An Exquisite Invitation

Admittedly, up until my early forties, most of my obedience was out of obligation or fear. That’s not all bad. Doing what I thought pleased him kept me from paying the price for some of my selfish desires. However, it did not make me perfect, and, more importantly, it did not endear me to him. The constant struggle for obedience frustrated me since my aspiration to follow was greater than my capacity to do so.

Looking back now, I realize that trying to follow Jesus out of fear won’t take us far. We will not follow someone for long that we don’t love and admire, and with whom we feel safe. You may get a few things right living like that, but you won’t follow him wherever he goes because you won’t be close enough to him to see where he’s going.

In my early forties that began to change for me. In another decisive moment, the betrayal of a close friend opened another door for me. Jesus invited me not to fight for my position. “I have more to teach you if you walk away than if you stay,” were the words that kept stirring in my mind. I tried to argue around them, wondering what I still needed to learn. I thought I had it all figured out. Little did I know how far off the mark I was. Rote obedience to our concept of God’s expectations does not invite us into kingdom life. Over time, following him down that road changed my life in ways that answered the deepest hunger of my heart and made following him the greatest adventure of my life.

As I weathered the anger of betrayal and the fear of how I would provide for my family, I began to learn the most important lesson of my life—obedience was not the way to gain his love and favor; I already had it. The essence of the Gospel and the fruit of Jesus’s Incarnation demonstrated that I am loved even in my brokenness. Following the Lamb wherever he goes was not a command at all, but an exquisite invitation into an extraordinary way to live.

In these days, Jesus is wooing his bride back to himself, waking her from slumber, drawing her into his love so that she can discover the joy of walking alongside him through joy and pain. If Jesus is in the periphery of your vision, now is the time to set your focus on him.

Where to Begin

If you want to follow Jesus wherever he goes, you will want to first learn to relax deeply into his Father’s love. That took years for me, but as I did, I became more aware of his presence. I could sense his affection for me and recognize more consistently his care and the insights he offered.

Now, I had Someone to follow who cared about me and invited me into his story of redemption not only for me but also for the world around me. Even when he invited me down difficult roads, trusting in his love made it possible for me to follow, knowing he had resources beyond mine and would care for me even when situations didn’t turn out as I hoped. He always had another path that would invite me deeper into his way of thinking.

Rarely, if ever, did he demand me to do anything. He offered me opportunities to follow him. When I did, wonderful things happened even when it meant a more difficult path than I would have chosen. When I ignored his invitations, thinking I already knew best, circumstances usually got worse, were hurtful to others, or led to unresolvable pain.

As I become more attuned to his heart, I find him a steady presence to navigate the chaos of a fallen world. There’s no way my marriage with Sara would have survived her trauma if he had not walked us through it by preparing us in advance, holding our hearts when the darkness came, and lighting a path that drew us back together in a way that made her trauma our trauma, so we could walk a healing path together.

While he is willing to guide us at times like this, he also wants us to learn how to make wise and wonderful decisions inside his love. He doesn’t want to micromanage us. He cares about what we think, and the choices we would make. He responds to our concerns and questions, though often slower and more subtly than we might hope for and with insights that will challenge us into his truth. It is like looking through a darkened mirror most days but keep looking for him and you’ll see his fingerprints and sense his nudges.

In the joy of walking with him, however, I am always aware that this is not a friendship between equals. He is God after all, with all the wisdom and strength I need to make sense of life. He knows the best way to traverse every stage of my journey as he unravels the darkness with the wonder of his glory. I don’t want to convince him to do things my way anymore; I want him to make his way clear enough for me to follow.

You will find no greater purpose or no better path to wholehearted living than you will partnering with him in his unfolding purpose for you. It will perfectly dovetail with the better side of your personality and the hungers that lie deep in your soul. That’s why describing it as obedience doesn’t do it justice. It’s a journey inside all that is right and true about the universe and will make you part of the world’s redemption instead of adding to its misery.

His desire is not to order us about so he will look good, or to enlist our free labor for his benefit. My most profound moments of sensing his will and following him have all come as invitations, not demands. While this has surprised me many times, it really shouldn’t have. What kind of bridegroom would boss his bride around, and what bride would willingly endure it?

Tenderly and graciously, he invites his bride into his heart. To coerce her would be to violate her nature, as would trying to gain power over her through threats or intimidation. That’s why his predominant image at the end of the age is a Lamb, not a roaring lion, as we’ll see in the next chapter.

If you’ve lost the thread of following Jesus, perhaps distracted by the shiny things of the world, or worn out on a religious obligation that never seemed fruitful, maybe you never got the chance to learn how to truly follow him. Like me, you may have been chasing a set of rules instead of experiencing a depth of love that you will want to follow to the end of your days. It’s not too late.


Volunteering Freely

In the chapters to come, Lael, I will unpack some things that have helped me follow, even through my darkest days, with an ever-growing sense of adventure. It’s no different than someone having you alongside them, guiding them to the best alpine lakes. You’re not there to control ever detail but to give them options and keep them safe.

We’ll see that following him is not endlessly seeking a “word from God;” it is walking alongside the One who knows you best and loves you most, interacting with him as circumstances come your way. The best place to start is by asking him to show you a love so deep that following him becomes your delight.

He’ll invite you to process your doubts and struggles with him and release a divine creativity he has instilled in you to touch the world with his beauty. Cared for by him, you’ll have the space not to live self-focused, but to be more aware of others around you, and how you might lighten their load. He’s not going to ask you anything that is not inside his love for you and his ability to protect and provide for you through whatever happens.

Who wouldn’t want a guide like that to help them negotiate the illusions and challenges of this fallen world and embrace the beauty of his kingdom coming? When you find him as engaging as I do, you too will find yourself wanting to follow the Lamb wherever he goes. This is how we were meant to live and the fruitfulness of doing so bears its own rewards. That’s what David saw about a future where, “Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power.” (Psalm 110:3)

If you want to follow the Lamb wherever he goes, dive into his love and you will joyfully follow him to the ends of the earth.



You can access previous chapters here. Stay Tuned for Chapter 7 


6 thoughts on “Chapter 6: Following the Lamb”

  1. Pingback: Chapter 6: Following the Lamb | Lifestream – The Faith Herald

  2. Hello Wayne

    Thank you for the wonderful encouragement “To follow the Lamb” as I swiftly near my 82nd birthday the gentle power of those words sustain and encourage. How well I remember us travelling to Oxford, The Kilns, The Eagle and Child near to St Giles, then the University where the great man worked. Days long gone, but memories remain fresh and bright.
    Thanking you for all the years and moments that you have been a precious part of my life

    1. Such great times! I love that God has given us a relationship that has spanned decades and that we carry the same heart for Jesus’s people in the world. Blessings to you, my friend!

  3. “I don’t want to convince him to do things my way anymore; I want him to make his way clear enough for me to follow.” Poetry.
    Honesty with Him is a huge part of my walk with the Lord….Constant conversation, all day long.
    He is peace that the world can never give!

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