Today’s post comes from Coe Hutchison, pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in Port Townsend WA. This article was written by Pastor Coe Hutchison for Grace Lutheran’s Voice of Grace and as a guest contribution to the blog series – Following Jesus What Difference Does it Make?
Coe is a second-career pastor who graduated from seminary in 2009. He has lived nearly all his life in Western Washington and spent thirty years in the business side of the electric utility industry. According to Coe: Following God’s lead is a wonderful adventure and God has led us to Port Townsend and we are loving it.
Following Jesus: What difference has it made?
One of God’s most profound works in my life has been calming life’s storms and providing a lasting and stable foundation. Early in my life, I worked to please bosses, elected officials, co-workers, whoever happened to be in sight at the time. Henri Nouwen’s description was apt,
“At issue here is the question: ‘To whom do I belong? To God or to the world?’ Many of my daily preoccupations suggest that I belong more to the world than to God. A little criticism makes me angry and a little rejection makes me depressed. A little praise raises my spirits, and a little success excites me. It takes very little to raise me up or thrust me down. Often I am like a small boat on the ocean completely at the mercy of its waves.” (Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son, (Doubleday: New York, 1992), p. 42.)
Over the years, God has calmed some of those waves, as my identity has been more deeply and solidly formed in Christ’s love. God’s love has sustained us through children with cancer, careers and jobs that ended unsatisfactorily and many other ups and downs of life. God has calmed the waters and provided a foundation that has held up through the storms of life. “I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house, but could not shake it, for it was well built” (Luke 6:47-48, NRSV).
With time, I have come to learn the way home, home to Jesus. It is a home that is safe and secure. It is a home that is never far away and in which I can abide. I can always make the short trip home with a few minutes of abiding prayer. It is a home where I am loved, forgiven and strengthened to go out and love others with the same love that I know at home.
Now as a pastor I have the privilege of looking into people’s eyes and hearts and assuring them of Christ’s love and sacrifice, Jesus’ gift of himself, crucified for them. There are no more precious words and no greater privilege.
I still follow Jesus because there is no one else who has the words of eternal life, there is no one else whose love sustains me, no one else who calms the storms of the world and provides a foundation to withstand whatever life sends our way. But frankly, it is too light a word to say that I still “follow” Jesus. It is much more accurate to say that I cling to Jesus, with every ounce of strength. And Jesus seems to respond back, “Hold on tight, it’s an exciting ride.”