One summer when I was a counselor in upstate New York. I had a group of campers who always forgot their flashlights. Night after night, we had to walk back to our campsite with one flashlight for nine people.
At any other camp this might not have been such a big deal, but these were rugged trails. Barely shoulder width wide, they were covered with jagged rocks. Even in daylight, people used to complain about hiking at this camp. Hikers couldn’t enjoy the woods, they were too busy looking at their feet to avoid tripping and falling.
We developed a system designed for one flashlight. The leader of the group would carry the flashlight in the fourth position – three in front of him, five in back. The flashlight would be pointed in the direction we were headed. The people behind would simply follow the light. When an object presented a hurdle that might trip someone, the first person would say, “rock” and point. This would be repeated on down the line.
The first couple of times they forgot the flashlight by accident, but then they did it intentionally. The group started to enjoy the challenge. It bonded us. No one could move too far ahead, or lag too far behind. As a result, we ended up having great conversations.
When Jesus says, “Follow me” I think of this group. The light we follow is not in some far off place, it’s in the midst of us. Sometimes it points us where to go. Sometimes we just follow where it leads. No one is given their own personal light to control. It’s a light we share. Even though the light provides safety, it doesn’t mean there won’t be serious difficulties along the way. Finally, you don’t have to follow the light, life is just more profound and hopeful when you do. (Mt. 8:22)