A few weeks ago, I found myself peddling the Walmart aisles for a graduation card. Honestly, I didn’t give it much effort. I knew my friend didn’t care about the type of card. Hallmark? A piece of paper folded hamburger style with stick people? He didn’t care. And neither did I. Until I found the perfect one: a card based on the book “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Seuss.
I’m not so sure if he likes Dr. Seuss. But I do. The creative illustrations, catchy wordplay, and rhythmic flow awaken my inner-child. But there’s something special about “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” Consider a couple of quotes.
“Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!”
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you’ll choose.”
By now, you probably see why this story makes a good graduation card. Or does it?
I’ve often been told, “You’re going places.” Maybe you have, too. But where?
Now, I tend to be a serious person. And sometimes, I take things too literally. But let me assure you that I understand the meaning behind this statement. It’s supposed to be a compliment, indicating that someone is likely to be successful. But if we’re not careful, we can become more concerned with “going places” than pursuing God.
In a world full of people who long to “go places,” Jesus is looking for people who long to be where He is and go where He leads.
Let’s turn our attention to the Bible.
“Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go’” (Matt. 8:18-19 ESV).
Crowds. We know what they look like. Arenas full of sport enthusiasts. Stadiums packed to the hilt. Passionate. Energetic. And full of admiration. But when it comes to commitment, the crowd begins to dwindle. When there’s a cost, the people start walking away. And that’s what happens in Matthew 8.
A guy approaches Jesus and promises to follow Him wherever He goes. And all of sudden, the thought of “going places” becomes less glamorous. After all, there’s a cost. A sacrifice.
“And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head’” (v. 20 ESV).
In other words, following Jesus requires us to set aside our comforts. It’s a call to turn from our sins and pick up our crosses (Matt. 16:24). And that’s hard. But it doesn’t stop another guy from approaching Jesus.
“Another of the disciples said to him, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead’” (Matt. 8:21-22 ESV).
It sounds harsh. I agree. But there’s a deeper meaning behind what Jesus says. He’s showing this man that nothing in life compares to the incredible value of knowing and following Christ.
At one point, Jesus even says, “‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple’” (Luke 14:26 ESV).
By now, you may want me to shut up. I mean, how do I go from lighthearted Dr. Seuss to weighty scriptures? Well, there’s a reason. I promise.
As much as I love Dr. Seuss, life is more than “going places.” Life is knowing Jesus and going where He leads. But make no mistake about it, there’s a cost.
It’s hard to let go of yourself. It’s hard to deny your flesh. And yes, it’s hard to live the radical life that God calls you to live. But let me tell you, it’s so worth it.
Jesus says, “‘For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?’” (Matt. 16:25-26 ESV).
With that being said, I’d rather go with Jesus than go places. I’d rather walk with Jesus each and every day than find myself in a cool place without Him. I pray that you, too, decide to give your all to Jesus Christ.
And when you do—oh, the places you’ll go!
Isaiah Pauley is passionate about sharing Jesus in a simple way. Follow the journey of this young pastor at www.isaiahpauley.com, on Facebook at Isaiah Pauley Page, or on Instagram @isaiahpauley.