by Stacy Sanchez
But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Ruth 1:6 NIV
Thirty-three years ago, a young woman stood alongside her handsome groom and in front of one hundred witnesses vowed her undying devotion. The weather was perfect for an outdoor winter wedding: the sky a crisp, cerulean blue, the birds sang their melodies from the aviary, and a rainbow appeared above the happy couple as if cued by a Hollywood set designer. Could it have been more perfect?
As the naïve bride proudly announced, “I do” the vocalist began the song chosen to solidify their union: John Denver’s “Follow Me.” In this ballad, the singer beckons his beloved to take hold of his hand and follow him wherever he may lead her. If he goes up, she goes up. If down, she goes down. If he goes all around, she’s, well, dizzy? He even goes so far as to ask her to make herself a part of him so she could follow more closely. “What a beautiful sentiment for a wedding. Of course, I will follow you, my love.” she pledged.
Isn’t that the sweetest e.v.e.r.? Gag.
I promise, I tried. I dutifully followed my husband’s leading. When that didn’t work, he followed mine. When that didn’t work, we wondered why the heck we even got married if all we were going to do is argue about who to follow. It took a few years of butting our stubborn noggins together, but we finally figured out what worked for us. We weren’t supposed to be following each other, we were supposed to be following the Lord and submitting ourselves to His leading. Sometimes, God would speak through John. Sometimes, He spoke through me. Other times, He didn’t speak at all; either John or I would throw a prayer shawl over our shoulders and pray until we felt like we knew the Lord’s direction.
This took a lot of practice, and we didn’t always get it right. Occasionally, we thought we heard God’s voice, but it turned out our voices sounded too much like His to tell the difference, and we were back to leading ourselves.
“This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow” (Isaiah 48:17 ESV).
One year we took a vacation to Canada to visit our dear friends. On a day trip to Banff, I found a souvenir Inuksuk we now use as a reminder to not follow our own leading, but to follow the Lord’s.
An Inuksuk is a statue made from stacked stones erected to look like a person. Long before Google Maps, the Indigenous peoples of North America built them as directional markers. Numerous Inuksuit can still be found across Canada, Alaska, and Greenland. The Indigenous peoples of North America used them as helpers to point the way to food, shelter, and a communal meeting place. When hunters went out into the frozen tundra to look for food, an Inuksuk was their lifeline to safety. The hunter would search for and “follow the man” on the path to find the way home.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me”(Matthew 16:24 NLT).
In thirty-three years, my husband and I have searched for and followed the man, Jesus, on our marriage journey. Like everyone, we’ve had some extremely hard ups, downs, and all arounds. Thankfully, Jesus stands on the path to show us the direction to go. His word is a light to our feet and guides our path. When in doubt, the Inuksuk sitting on my bookshelf reminds us to take hold of each other’s hand and follow the Man. Jesus will make our pathways straight. He, alone, is our hope and safety.
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Stacy Sanchez has been married to her beloved husband, John, for 32 years, is a mother of 5, and a very young grandmother of six (soon to be seven) yummy grandcherubs. She is a pastor, author, and speaker. Her passions include teaching Christians about the Jewish roots of their faith, as well as helping to empower women to become all that God has created them to be. When not teaching or writing, you will find Stacy and John walking on the beach and playing with their grandchildren. You can connect with Stacy at her blog, writetotheheart.org, and on Facebook and Instagram.
Join the conversation: What works for you in your marriage?