Signing Up to Follow Jesus

By Steve Akin

In 1994, my wife and I were not yet married. We went on a date one night to see Forrest Gump. There is a point in the film where Forrest looks at his girl and says, “You’re my girl, Jen-ny.” At that moment, I looked with a Forrest-like blank stare at my then girlfriend and said, “You’re my girl, Jen-ny.” I stayed in character, and thought, Nailed it! Jen winced with a look that could best be translated: Oh, man. What am I signing up for here?

In this season of Lent, it occurs to me that question must have crossed the minds of most every New Testament hero. What did Mary, Joseph, or any of the apostles sign up for? Did they have a clue? Could any have conceived of the storm-calming, on-the-water-walking, dead-raising, illness-curing, wisdom-speaking, Kingdom-explaining, all-knowing, and loving Savior dying in front of their eyes? Even though they were told, could they have believed His words when Jesus said that He’d be returning?

Probably not. Even after touching His body, I’m certain it took time to absorb the reality that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead. It took even longer to understand the significance. I think all of us are still working out the significance of the resurrection in our lives.

What did I sign up for?

Well, in my wife’s case, in marriage, she signed up for a goofy instigator who lights up about the little things, but seems unfazed by the big, important stuff. My wife’s husband speaks and then it occurs to him – about a week later – what possible impacts his words may have had. Yup, he’s messed up. Did she have a clue that it’d work out the way it did with two adopted boys, a 120-year-old house, a ministry career, and a desire to drive only Hondas? No way! But I’m pretty sure, like Forrest Gump’s life, the roller coaster ride that is our marriage has brought about greater clarity regarding the purpose and meaning of life for both of us.

I am sensing a good deal of uncertainty out there. At work: Why all the cutbacks? I thought this career would be stable. In marriage: Why is it hard to work things out now that we have the kids? Weren’t they supposed to be such a blessing? In our faith: Why does it seem like God is so far away sometimes? Is He listening? The list can go on and on.

Do you find yourself asking, “What did I sign up for?” If I may, I’d like to offer some answers. You signed up to be a member of a family of believers. You want to be part of the continuing narrative that is Holy Spirit-guided, Kingdom-building work. There is no better thing in which to be engaged. This is equal parts exciting and frightening. By the way, when you have both in equal parts, that’s how you know you’re on the right path.

You signed up for more blessings in the form of grace, peace, joy, and hope than can be weighed on scales. And it’s all fueled by love. It’ll cost you everything, but you won’t mind seeing everything go. That’s another way you’ll know you’re in His will.

You signed up for the Resurrected One to come alive in your heart, your relationships, and in your future in order to liberate people from their distractions so they can meet and know the One Who is Love. This is what our New Testament heroes came to find out.

“I’m not a very smart man, but I do know what love is.” – Forrest Gump