One day, I gave a friend a ride home after work. I’d never been to his house, so he was giving directions. He got to talking and suddenly shouted: “Hey! That’s my house!” I stomped on the brakes, only to feel the pedal slam to the floor and my car just kept right on coasting down the road. The culprit: A shredded brake line. The brake pressure was instantly gone. Thankfully we were driving in a neighborhood at slower speeds on a road that was pretty empty at the time. It’s terrifying to think what would have happened if I’d needed to brake to avoid a collision or a person, or if it had happened at a busy city intersection or a toll-booth at highway speeds.
Just as important as being able to get a car rolling is bringing that car to a stop when the need arises. Slowing a moving car can be done in several pretty obvious ways. You can ease off the throttle, taking your foot off the gas pedal and coasting to reduce speed. And, of course, you can also tap the brakes to slow down a little bit. You can also hit those brakes hard, like I did (and hope they work every time). Unfortunately, it’s also possible to stop a car in a few less comfortable ways: Hitting a wall, an engine breakdown, a drive-belt or timing-chain breaking, etc. These last strategies also "work", but, once you’re stopped, you’re stopped for good.
God doesn’t tell us to run on ahead, non-stop, for the rest of our lives. There’s this invitation for us to disciple others that we read in today’s scripture. Helping others get to know and learn to follow Jesus requires the ability to slow down, sometimes even stop in our tracks, to help someone else figure out how to get rolling. As they get up to speed, they learn to do life with Jesus in a way that brings transformation and life-change until they, too, find the opportunity to live into Jesus’ invitation to slow down and teach someone else.
As we follow Jesus, we will log lots of miles along the “road,” sometimes driving on the open highway, other times slowing down to take the scenic route. And still other times stopping to invite someone else to join us in the journey.
Is anyone following your lead right now? If you’re not sure, stop and look back. Is anyone looking to you as an example of Jesus to imitate? If not, pray and ask God to do this in your life. Lives will be changed as a result.