“Sweet are the promises, kind is the word,
Dearer far than any message man ever heard;
Pure was the mind of Christ, sinless I see;
He the great example is, and pattern for me.”
“Where He leads I’ll follow,
Follow all the way.
Where He leads I’ll follow,
Follow Jesus ev’ry day.”
– William A. Ogden in “Where He Leads I’ll Follow” (1885)
Of the hymns we sing today, this is one that has guided my life since an 8- or 9-year-old little kid in northern Minnesota began to follow the Lord’s call. The songs that touched my heartstrings then still touch my heartstrings today.
“Just as I am, without one plea,
But that thy blood was shed for me,
And that thou bidst me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.”
– Charlotte Elliott in “Just as I Am” (1835)
I may come across as hard as steel sometimes, but God has given me a heart that is tender and caring. Like in the first hymn, I’m still following Jesus. We go way back.
My dad dedicated each of his children to the Lord, and I’m sure that God’s Spirit remained with me throughout my life. God kept His hand upon me and protected me for whatever He had in mind for me in the future. I know distinctly of three occasions where God spared my life – one at infancy, another at age 11 and another while I was in military service. Throughout our lives, we will never know all the times when God spares us from tragedy.
As we find in Philippians 4:11, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
Are there any of us who have the least idea what God has in store for us in the future? Absolutely not. “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14).
This speaks to us about the readiness of life. When we walk out our doors today, we could meet our destiny.
My wife, Romayne, had no idea whatsoever what she had gotten herself in for when she married this dude with the shiny blue car wearing the baby blue suit and diamond ring — old mister hotshot who would lead her around the world and into several states as well as countries. It is only through her love for her Lord and me that she could do this. God had to make her very special. One might even have thought of me as being a gypsy or a vagabond — moving from here to there and not settling down. I think she has finally gotten her vagabond settled down. But we still don’t know what God has up His sleeve for us. I am sure that if God has another move for us, she’d go.
We left her parents in San Francisco and headed to North Dakota to a church that was losing its workers and had dwindled down to a dozen or so in the church. The main body of the church was a businessman with his family, a woman on welfare with six or seven kids, and our family. Then came a young man out of seminary and another young man and his wife, and, with the efforts of those there, our attendance increased to about 50 to 55 in just about three years.
A few years later, I was reading this magazine and noticed a “help wanted” ad: “house parents for a group home for boys.” Wouldn’t you know? That’s just where we ended up. I’d never heard of a group home for boys. Romayne and I had just raised our four kids and also had four foster kids. After six years and 80 boys, we must have become experts in child raising. We next headed to the other side of the world to a boarding school for missionaries’ children. After two years there and about 20 girls, we changed again. Romayne became the librarian at a school in Taiwan. We returned to the boys home for another stint and another 20 or so boys.
During a couple of lulls in our activities in Indiana, there came the opportunity to go to Mexico to help build a church in Nogales and to Eastern Europe to take some high school kids to Romania to minister in high schools. Then we learned of the need for an instructor at the Bible school in Malawi to teach several pastors. What a joy it was to be able to interact with the pastors. In order for these men and women to get their ordination, they had to complete the schooling, which would take them up to five years and include planting three new churches.
When is our work going to end? We still don’t know. We had several opportunities to serve at Oakdale Christian Academy in Jackson, Kentucky, but said no. Then, a few years back, we finally said yes.
Do you remember the prayer of Jabez? “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain” (1 Chronicles 4:10).
You may have heard being a Christian must be a boring life. I don’t think so. If you want to live an exciting life, just try following the Lord “where He leads,” and you will have the ride of your life.
Ken Stenstrom is a longtime member of the Winona Lake Free Methodist Church. Click here to read more about him and his new book, “The Intimate, Uninhibited Life & Times of a Christian Dad, Wife and Their Brood,” in an article by the Times Union newspaper.
- Are you willing to surrender your life to Christ and follow Him?
- How can you ensure your life decisions are guided by Christ?
- Do we expect our pastors to do all of the work of the church, or are we ready to work?