Having a baby at seventeen years old was hard. I had little money, I depended on others to babysit while I took college classes, and my boyfriend and friends continued enjoying their teen years without me. But with the hardship came an unexpected change—I dedicated my life to God. Once I felt God’s love and forgiveness I wanted to serve Him with all that was in me, especially after I married and had more children. I volunteered in Sunday school and Vacation Bible School. I cooked at church. I led Bible studies and mentored young women.
Reading the story of Jesus’ triumphal entry during the Passover festival, I understand the celebration. If I had been in that crowd, I would have been waving my palm branch the highest and singing praises the loudest. Yet it wasn’t the people’s excitement or service that Jesus valued.
Through the crowd, rumors spread about how Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. Visiting Greeks approached Jesus’ disciples, wanting to rub shoulders, but the words out of Jesus’ mouth weren’t what anyone expected. Jesus didn’t thank them for the praise. “Whoever serves me must follow me,” He said.
I pause when I read those words. Those who serve must follow…not the other way around? In the years since I was a teen mom I’ve become a person who likes to “do” things for God. Serving means picking out activities that I can do in my own strength, like volunteering in the church nursery or making a meal for my pastor. Those things fit my schedule. The “following” has been harder. It means stepping out of my comfort zone and sharing the good news of Jesus with others.
With boughs in hand, those in the crowd were forced to make a decision—God’s way or theirs. I’ve had to learn the same thing. I do celebrate that Jesus saved my soul when I was seventeen, but I also try to follow Him every day of my life. When I follow I’m not only doing something for God; I’m also allowing Him to work through me in amazing ways.
Faith Step: Write down three things you do to serve God. Are you doing those things because God asked you to? Cross out any you’re doing because someone asked and you didn’t want to say no. Now, fill that space with an activity or mission God’s asked you to follow Him in.