What Does It Take to Follow Jesus?

Before I begin, I just want to apologize for not being able to post for three days. I’m really sorry. Especially to my paying subscribers. It is my commitment to publish one blog post every single day and I failed. Also, my streak of 201 blog posts is now over. I just have to do it again. But this time, I’ll do better (and have reserved articles for when life gets busy). And like I said yesterday, I’m here to stay.

I’ll try to make it up to you with this blog post. But, this post will be quite long, unlike most of my posts. This is worth the three days of blogging (or more) that I missed.

I'll start with a story from the bible. Please read it and feel every word:

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that they were in danger of sinking. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him. — Luke 5: 1-11

Last weekend, I went to a retreat with the servants of our church community. When we got to the retreat house, the priest shared with us the life of St. John Bosco. You can read his story here. But, what struck me the most was how we was connected with those whom he helped—especially the young orphans and abandoned children. He had a genuine relationship with them. He did not just provide them with food and shelter. He knew them and spent his time with them. He lived for them.

When the retreat proper started, the retreat coordinator asked us, “Why are you here?” That’s when I realized that I didn’t have any purpose for going to the retreat other than it was a retreat for the servants.

So, when we prayed, I asked God to give me purpose for going to the retreat. Here’s His answer to me:

“Leave Everything Behind and Follow Him”

It’s easy to say, “I will follow Jesus completely.” But, it’s hard to do so. It’s not practical. Not at all.

When Peter, James, and John followed Jesus, they left their boats, their nets, and everything behind. They left their jobs, their source of income, behind. Ask yourself, “Can I do that? Can I leave my job behind and not know where my next meal will come from just to follow Jesus?" I know I can’t. That’s when I realized that I always say I follow Jesus completely, but I do otherwise. The practicality of it is holding me back.

I felt God speaking to me. He said, “Offer to Me completely the thing most important to you.”

Guess what, the most important thing to me right now is this blog. This is where I spend most of my time on. Whatever you spend your time on, you value. That’s why I value this the most. After five years of working, this is what I am most proud of. This is what I feel is my greatest achievement so far. I felt God was asking me to give away all my income from this blog. Yes, one hundred percent of all subscriptions.

Throughout the day, I couldn’t believe what God asked me to do. My mind was occupied by that thought all day. At night, I even had difficulty falling asleep.

My mind was set on living off 49 percent of the subscriptions when it finally reaches 1,000 subscribers. (Ten percent goes to our church community as tithes and 41 percent goes to helping the poor.) But, God asked me to give away all one hundred percent! It felt like He gave me hope to finally escape from 9-to-5 and then He took it away. It was my escape plan, my light at the end of the tunnel. That’s why it also hurt so much.

During the whole day, I also bargained with God. I told Him, “Father, isn’t 51 percent enough? You’re getting more than I’m getting. How about 60/40? Sixty for You and Your people and forty for me and my future family? How about 70/30?” But no, He asked one hundred percent.

After bargaining with God, I spent time, a lot of time, in prayer. 

When I finally came to accept His will, I felt at peace. (Still from time to time, I jokingly asked Him, “70/30?” He would laugh at me and say, “No.” Or so I felt.) 

When my thoughts finally settled, God revealed to me some of His plans and the lessons He wanted me to learn by leaving everything behind:

“Give us this day our daily bread.”

Do you know why we have fridges? It’s not because of selfishness. It’s because of fear—fear that we won’t have anything to eat the following day.

But when I gave to God my source of income, I learned to trust Him more. Yes, in just one day, I learned to do so. Because I had nothing else to depend on anymore other than Him.

It’s not just about trusting Him more. It’s trusting Him every single day. That’s why we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” God wants us to depend on Him every day of our lives. God wants us to trust that He will provide what we need, exactly when we need it.

Last Monday, I realized that I had overspent my money. In order to make it through next week’s pay day, I cannot spend even a hundred peso over my budget. Then, a friend paid me what he owed me since last year! I had already written it off. After all, it’s more than eight months past due. But, when I needed it most, God made a way. How could I not trust God more?

Allow God to surprise you.

I’ve been blogging for two years. I have spent thousands of hours understanding how to make my blog grow and how to make money blogging. I’ve probably stumbled upon all possible ways other bloggers make a living through blogging. (Although I haven’t tried all of them on my blog. Knowing and doing are different things.) Nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to blogging.

Most of the time, we live like this. We think we know everything that nothing surprises us anymore. We live too scientifically. We live calculated lives. We believe only in what we can imagine, in what we can conceive in our minds. We believe only in what we think is possible—cause and effect, input and output, effort and reward. We no longer allow God to surprise us with His miracles, His grace, and His generosity.

When I surrendered my blog to God completely, I felt as if God took away my only possible way to escape from 9-to-5. It was the only way I thought possible at the moment given my skills, learning, and experiences. It was my light at the end of the tunnel. But then, I felt God speaking to me and saying, “Let Me surprise you. You have been faithful to Me, allow Me to be faithful to you in ways you never thought possible. Live expecting My miracles."

God wants me to live only in what is physically and scientifically possible. He wants me to live in what is possible with Him. And with God, nothing is impossible. He wants me to live life in expectation of miracles. He wants me to live my life with awe. And yes, you should too. Because your life will always feel magical that way.

I already shared with you the miracle I received last Monday. Last Tuesday, a friend asked me to share with her my affiliate link for the Truly Rich Club so she could join. She’s a friend whom I haven’t talked with for over a year! And I haven’t shared my affiliate link for over a year as well! Just when God told me He would surprise me, He really did! The timing of those two miracles could not have been more perfect! Why else should I worry? Why else should you worry?

Besides, we can never out-give God. We can never outdo Him in generosity. He will bless you in ways you can never imagine. Expect miracles.

Learn to depend on God alone.

Why did we attend school? To learn? How wonderful would that be if that were always the case!

But, we attended school because we (or our parents) wanted us to have something to depend on to get a job and to have a bright future. We attended school because of the same reason why we have fridges—fear. That’s why good grades are a must. If learning were really at the heart of education, grades would not be important as long as the children are learning. There would be no As and Fs.

Even attending graduate school is partly because of fear—the fear of not getting promoted or the fear of not being enough.

We depend on what's inside our fridges for our next meals the same way we depend on money (or savings), our resources, our skills, our experiences, our achievements, our strength, the name we built for ourselves, our reputation, and even our families, friends, and relationships for our future and, to some extent, our self-worth.

But, all of these are fleeting. Even our successes are not lasting. They are temporary.

That's why we get stressed, worried, and anxious. We depend on things that are fading. We chase after the wrong things.

Everything on this world is temporary. Only one thing is permanent: God. He is the only constant in this world. Can you trust God alone? Can you trust Him alone for your future and for your self-worth?

I’m not saying you should just bum around. You should still get up and get to work. But, work for today, not for the fear of tomorrow. Work for your daily bread. When you flip that switch in mindset, you will begin doing work that matters. And you’ll be doing better work. Besides, better work is what leads to success—success for today and tomorrow.

(Have you noticed that the world’s economies are mostly run by fear? And yes, even the richest depend on their wealth for their future and self-worth. They are run by fear. That’s why there’s gross inequality in the distribution of wealth.)

When you leave everything behind, you begin to live for others...genuinely.

Now that I’m no longer earning anything from subscriptions, I’m slowly proving to myself that I simply love blogging. More importantly, I’m slowly proving to myself that I really love my readers and subscribers. So, thank you.

I have written only two posts since the retreat, but when I wrote those posts, I no longer thought about my posts being clicked, being liked, or being shared. I only thought about whether each post would be helpful to my readers or not and, of course, to express myself more. Oh, and to make the difference that I can make.

When you’re no longer focused on yourself, you begin to focus on others and their needs. You begin not only to live for yourself, but also for others.

It’s not just about helping others as well. It’s about genuinely caring for them. It’s about building genuine relationships with them.

I’ve always said that I want to help the poor. But, really, am I willing to sit down and talk with them? Am I willing to take thirty minutes or so of my time just to listen to their story? Am I willing to stop on my way to work to help someone in need? To be honest, no. I’m not. Because I don’t care enough. I want to help because it feels good for me, not because I really want to. I see helping in my perspective, not on theirs. I’m also not willing because I don’t have genuine relationships with them.

And I think it’s time to change that.

Live each moment with gratitude.

Now that I’m trusting God more, I noticed that I also became more thankful. I began to recognize how He is working in my life. I began to recognize His blessings and miracles. Most importantly, I began to recognize His works in the little things.

Not knowing where my next meal will come from, I learned to appreciate each meal I take. Not knowing what will happen tomorrow, I learned to appreciate the work that I do now. In fact, I’m really doing a lot better at my work because I don’t know until when I can do this. Not knowing whether my loved ones will be with me tomorrow, I learned to appreciate them more and spend more time with them. I no longer take them for granted. I no longer take anything for granted. Not even a single step I take. I just hope I never forget this lesson.

From the retreat, I also learned that the best form of appreciation is by making the most of what you received. Are you making the most of your time? Are you making the most of your gifts? Are you making the most of your strength and skills? Are you making the most of your time with your family and loved ones? Don’t take them for granted.

Challenge yourself to do more.

I depended my whole future on my blog’s subscriptions. But, now that I’m offering all of them up to Him, I felt challenged by God to do more and do better. He knows I can do so. He has given me so many gifts to be complacent.

The subscriptions have become my comfort zone and He wants me to step out of it once again. He wants me to explore other opportunities—opportunities not only to grow the blog, but also opportunities not related to blogging.

Sometimes, God takes away what we value the most to make us grow. He prunes us. And pruning is painful.

But, pruning is required to bear more fruit. How about you? In what area of your life is God pruning you?

Pray more and pray deeply.

This is perhaps the greatest lesson I learned when I left everything behind to follow Him. Now that I have nothing else to turn to, I can only turn to God.

Now, more than ever, I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t even know what will happen an hour or two from now. I can only trust God. That’s why in every step I take, I try my best to talk to God and walk with God.

Also, I learned to pray deeply and listen to what He wants me to do. After all, I no longer pray so much for tomorrow. I trust Him for tomorrow. I now have more time to listen to Him in deep prayer.

How about you?

That was a long one. How about you? Have you gone on any retreat lately? What is God telling you to do?Are you willing to leave everything behind to follow Him? Are you willing to leave the “practicality” of following Him behind?

There’s a verse in the retreat house’s session hall:

“Whatever He will say, do.” — John 2:5

What is God calling you to do? Do it.