When Jesus said follow me.
By Terry Cheek Th.D.
Recently John 21:21-22 came to mind; “2Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? 22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.”
After reading them and meditating on them verse 22 really made a renewed impression. Every born-again Saint has a testimony and a purpose in the Lord’s kingdom. Our culture is entrenched in the idea of social influencers who gain wild popularity overnight by trending on social media. Yet, our Lord doesn’t rely on social media like many of us do. The Lord often moves slowly, even taking decades to accomplish His work through the lives of His saints. I want to share with you one of those saints. This man wasn’t a pastor, an evangelist, or a confirmed missionary. He didn’t write a book or leave any deep theological discovery. He simply shared the gospel through the life he lived and the spreading of God’s Word.
This man’s name, Jedidiah Strong Smith. Most of you have never heard of him. He was born in New York, his parents moved to Pennsylvania and it was there his story begins. As a young man history tells of young Jedidiah accepting Christ as his Lord and Savior. This would have the early 1800’s and the Smith children went to school, but for young Jedidiah, his education took a deeper turn. Jedidiah was befriended by the local physician, “…1Dr. Titus Simons. During those formative years, the doctor was there nurturing young Jedediah and encouraging him in the reading of God’s Word.” How many of us can remember that special man or woman who took an interest in nurturing and encouraging us through the reading and teaching of God’s word. How often have we taken the time to see them as God’s instrument in shaping us for His service? That is exactly the role Dr. Titus Simons played in Jedediah Strong Smiths’ life. Jedediah’s life was consumed by exploring the land that remained untouched by Lewis and Clark. There were too many white spaces left on their map and Jedediah made it his goal to fill in as many as he could during his life. When he set out under the direction of General Ashley and his team of trappers and explorers heading into the Rocky Mountains, he knew the risks he was taking. Jedidiah said so long to his family and began a journey that would include more than trapping, hunting, and exploring.
Traveling with trappers and mountain men meant traveling with immoral men. Jedidiah’s faith was tested from the very beginning. His faith was challenged verbally and physically, young Jedidiah was assaulted because he refused to drink with the very people he would be traveling with. Yet, the Lord placed all of them in the right role to create respect between them. As the years would pass Jedidiah would learn the language of the western Indian’s and gain their respect, especially among the flathead nation. Christian missionaries intermarried among the flathead and spread the foundation of the gospel, but they wanted to know more, and Jedidiah would teach them more from the Bible he carried and studied daily. Many of the mountain men he traveled with would turn to Jedidiah Smith for strength and guidance as unexpected dangers would challenge their bravery.
Jedidiah Strong Smith was more than a historical figure of the American west, he became a historical figure of the Great Commission being spread across America. You and I need to take away from Jedidiah the importance of personal Bible study, and those God places in our lives as mentors for a short while, providing a spiritual foundation for the unblazed trails that lay ahead of us. Make no mistake, we all have an unblazed trail to map out, people to meet who do not know or understand the gospel of Christ. The most important question we should be asking ourselves is this; Am I prepared for the path God has chosen for me? So, when Jesus tells Peter “follow thou me.” Jesus is making a statement to every Saint of God. We are not to look at other Saints and model our service after them.
No, we are to be inquisitive in what our Lord has planned for our lives. We should be just like Jedidiah and feed the hunger of exploration with a commitment to the Great Commission, trusting daily in our ever-growing and deepening faith in God through His Son Jesus Christ. What is your path to blaze for the savior?
Until we meet again, either in print or in person, may God richly bless you is my prayer.
1Vogt, Esther Loewen. God’s Mountain Man: The Story of Jedediah Strong Smith. Gospel Publishing House. Kindle Edition.
2Nelson, Thomas. The Holy Bible, King James Study Bible (KJV) (Kindle Locations 140538-140543). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Terry is the Executive Director and broadcaster of The Inspiring Word media ministry. You can contact Terry by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.