“Come, follow me,” the Savior said.
Then let us in his footsteps tread,
For thus alone can we be one
With God’s own loved, begotten Son.
This hymn is so familiar. Just having read those words, you’ll probably have the tune stuck in your head for a while.
And it is such a simple phrase: “Come, follow me.” A command, but a gentle one. Compelling enough for Peter and Andrew to leave their fishing nets straightaway (see Matthew 4). Not compelling enough for a rich young man to give up everything he had to obey it (see Matthew 19).
Maybe his unwillingness was due to the commitment involved. It’s not enough to follow Jesus Christ for a little while. It’s not even enough to follow him throughout mortality; “no,” we realize, “this extends to holier spheres.” If we are going to be true disciples of Christ, we must give him our life, our soul, our eternity.
Not only shall we emulate
His course while in this earthly state,
But when we’re freed from present cares,
If with our Lord we would be heirs.
Nor is enough to wait until we are “freed from present cares” to make this commitment. If we hear the Savior’s call in this life, we can’t say, “Sounds good, Lord. I’m gonna have some fun now, though, and I’ll see you in the hereafter. Save me a place in your kingdom, will ya?” Alma explains:
Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world. For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked. (Alma 34:34-35, emphasis added)
If we spend our lives cultivating a spirit that is stubborn and rebellious, or lazy and indifferent, or more concerned with exploring doubt than building faith, death is not going to change us. Why should it? The veil will be removed from our minds, yes, but it takes time to learn humility, dedication, and trust. Time that our Father has graciously given us here on earth to practice those attributes. Time that we should not waste.
We must the onward path pursue
As wider fields expand to view,
And follow him unceasingly,
Whate’er our lot or sphere may be.
We will be presented with opportunities to choose again and again in this life: will we continue in the path the Savior set for us, or will we explore other options? Will we follow him when he is not here personally to direct us, but delegates that responsibility to imperfect mortals like ourselves? Will we follow him when our lives are filled with trials, doubts, fears, and sorrows? Will we follow him when our lives are easy and filled with joy and success?
“Whate’er our lot or sphere may be,” will we follow him?
That is the one question that matters in this life. And he has already given us the answer that leads to “thrones, dominions, kingdoms, pow’rs, and glory great and bliss”.
“Come,” he bids us. “Follow me.”