Don’t Look Back

She was asked, along with three others, to relinquish her seat on a crowded bus for a white man who had just boarded.  Though they were already seated in the section reserved for blacks, these four black passengers were ordered by the bus driver to stand in the aisle.  Three complied.  Rosa Parks remained seated.  In a 1987 television interview, Parks recalled:  “When he saw me still sitting, he asked if I was going to stand up, and I said, ‘No, I’m not.’  And he said, ‘Well, if you don’t stand up, I’m going to have to call the police and have you arrested.’  I said, ‘You may do that.'”  She was arrested and ordered to pay a fine of fourteen dollars.

As Mrs. Parks hurriedly left the department store where she worked as a seamstress on December 1, 1955, the last thing she was thinking about was becoming a symbol of the Civil Rights Movement. She had errands to run and preparations to make for a workshop that she was organizing for teenagers that weekend.  “So it was not a time for me to be planning to get arrested,” she said.

As important as the details of her life were, this moment constituted a call to something bigger for Mrs. Parks. Such moments always carry a degree of inconvenience, but when the commitment is made, something big can happen. In Rosa Parks’ case, her simple act brought about the 381-day Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955 and ignited the Civil Rights Movement.

Jesus warned would-be followers of the cost of discipleship. Many declared, “I will follow you wherever you go,” but Jesus’ responses dealt more with the costs of discipleship than the allure of it.

Luke writes of one such incident: “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.”  Jesus answered him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.”  Another man said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.”  But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:57-62).

While some consider Jesus’ response to be harsh, some commentators point out that Jesus was forcing people to focus on their priorities. There is always going to be something that needs to be done first.  There is always going to be an inconvenience to setting down my life or agenda for the sake of another.  The call to follow Christ demands that we leave everything.

There are moments in life that call us out of our daily lives and into something far beyond it.  What if it is God who is calling?

Keeping the faith,