Today is Jake’s birthday, and he doesn’t know it, but I am going to post a story of his. Here goes Jake:  

Years ago I was a student on an Outward Bound trip in the north woods of Minnesota. Early one morning, the leaders divided us into groups of three, dropped us off in different places with a map and compass and a destination to a large lake where we were to meet them that afternoon.

It was Rick, Pete, and me.  Rick said he’d been a boy scout, he knew orienteering, so Pete and I let him take charge.  There were no trails, we just followed Rick through the brush and trees. Total bushwhacking. 

After some hours, when we didn’t see the lake, I began to worry and realized that Rick did not know what he was doing. We were lost. Totally lost.  We had no idea where we were, so we had no idea which direction to go. We stopped and talked and came up with a plan. Someone could climb a tree, high enough, hopefully, to see the lake.  So we found a tall pine tree and Pete climbed way up to look around.  He saw the lake afar off and he could see a little bit of the shape of the lake.  

When he got down, we oriented the map and together we figured out the direction to we needed to go.  We hiked a good while that afternoon, and when we got to the lake we could tell it would be a long way around to our destination.  How would we make it to the other side before dark?

On the map we saw a narrow part of the lake. If we crossed the water there, we would be much closer. We had some rope, so we would make a small raft to carry our packs, clothes and shoes, and we would swim across, pushing the raft.

Our idea worked.  We found some down logs, lashed them together, piled on our stuff, and got in the cold water and safely across.  We hurriedly dressed and got moving quickly through the woods, following the shore of the lake. As it was turning dark, we heard the sounds of an airhorn.  It was our leaders guiding us to the campsite.  We got there just after dark.

So, what did I learn that day?  That Rick was a jerk?  No. I was at fault. I had been passive, lazy, not a team player, letting someone else do all the work, without trying to do my part.  I was disengaged, uninvolved until it got drastic.

I learned that I was not teachable . .

Jake wrote this story for a devotional collection. It goes on, but I will stop there.

I love imagining Jake as a typical know-it-all, confident 20-something young man. 

I love his can-do, adventurous, and strong spirit.  

And I am grateful he learned the importance of being teachable . . . before we got married. :o) 

            –            –           –           –           –

This morning in church, our pastor started with this question, “What is the greatest thing that has ever been said to you?” 

I was trying to think of something Jake said to me, something unforgettable, heart-booming. Something life-changing. 

But Jake is a man of actions (i.e. “Actions speak louder than words.”) and words are not really his thing, but he’s clever at borrowing words to express his thoughts.

It was John Denver’s words that Jake used to propose to me 48 years ago:

Follow me where I go, what I do, who I know
Make it part of you to be a part of me.
Follow me up and down,
All the way and all around,
Take my hand and say you’ll follow me.

That is our special song, and I’m thinking that those words, ‘follow me,’ coming from Jake’s heart, are some of the greatest words ever said to me.  

Unforgettable, heart-booming, life-changing words.

It’s been so worth it; it’s been a great life …. following Jake. 

–           –           –           –           –

John Denver didn’t mean to, but his lyric could be straight from Jesus.

Jesus’ main goal when He was on earth was to invite people to follow Him.  

And still today: He is asking us to follow Him. To go where He goes. To know the people He knows. To make Him a part of my life.  To follow Him up and down and all the way and all around, everywhere and always.

Jesus’ invitation, like Jake’s proposal of marriage to me, is unforgettable, heart-booming, and life-changing. It requires commitment, surrender, faith, and risk.

And it’s so worth it; it’s a great life …. following Jesus.

–           –           –           –           –           –

Thank you, Jake, for asking me to follow you. Thank you for being teachable and humble.

I love following Jesus with you. What a great life He’s given us.

Happy Birthday, dear Husband.

14 thoughts on “Following

  1. Truly beautiful! Could practically feel the cold water and hear the “horn”! So neat on what it means to be part of a team, teachable and humble. And thank you for sharing the song and how it is so meaningful to your marriage and life together as well as Jesus’ main call to us: “Follow Me!” John 21…perhaps my favorite chapter in the Bible!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mrs. Sarah,

    What a beautiful and encouraging story! Your marriage is such a great living example of following Jesus no matter what. Happy Birthday to Mr. Jake:)


  3. Great Blog Sarah! I love the story and the connection to being teachable! You and Jake have had a great journey together! Belated Happy Birthday Jake!


  4. Excellent word, Sarah!!! Happy Birthday Jake!! Jake became teachable and a GREAT teacher. My following his lead/example while at Montreat College and all over the mountains on Discovery, challenged me, inspired me, and grew my heart exponentially in my love for Jesus, others, and myself! Forever grateful for the Wonderful Wetzels in my life!! 🎉❤️🎂


  5. Happy Birthday Jake!
    What a wonderful way to honor your husband, Sarah. Very meaningful and how grateful I am that Jesus said to you .. to me.. “Follow Me”.


  6. Sarah are so good with your words. The story about you and Jake’s beginnings was so sweet. Love both of you guys so much. 💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖


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