Why I Follow the Cross

30 05 2014

By Susan Naylor,
International Headquarters Operations

I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
No turning back, no turning back.

—“I Have Decided to Follow Jesus,”
Community of Christ Sings 499,
S. Sundar Singh

I still can see the baptismal-font steps at the Walnut Park Congregation in Independence, Missouri, where I was baptized. I can see my dad patiently waiting in the font for me to walk down those steps, and in those last seconds I paused.

I’m sure he was thinking I had changed my mind. But the words of my prebaptismal teacher, Ralph Remington, rang loudly in my ears when he reminded those of us in his class that as we took that first step to say to ourselves, “I promise to always follow Jesus.”

On that day, my eighth birthday, Easter Sunday, my baptism, confirmation, and my first Communion…I promised to follow Jesus.

But that isn’t the question. The question is, “Why do I follow Jesus?” I follow Jesus because: (1) I know that he loves me, (2) Jesus is always with me in my life’s journey, and (3) my life is a reflection of Jesus for others to know.
And because I follow Jesus, I follow the cross.

From my earliest memories of Bible stories at my grandmother’s house, I wanted to be like the characters we read about who lived with Jesus. As I grew, the words of Doctrine and Covenants 155:7–8 have guided my walk with Jesus:

…Be not overly concerned with method as you go forth to witness in my name…the call is for workers in the cause of Zion; therefore, neither tarry, nor doubt that I am. I know your perplexities and I am aware of your uncertainties, but if you will call upon my name my Spirit will go before you into whatsoever place you are sent and I will continue to bless you as you have need.

So Jesus and I walk this exciting journey together, adventuring into places I may never have imagined.

Opportunities and challenges at times seem unmatched for my skills and experience. However, with Jesus going before me I find doors opened, others ready to be part of a team, and experiences that have no reasonable explanation other than Jesus and I were doing it together.

Being part of a young-adult witnessing team, I went to England to provide ministry, but instead received more than I felt I gave. Directing vacation church school, congregational retreats, mission center reunions, Spectacular, leadership events, and World Conference, I’ve often felt Jesus’ presence ahead of me in the planning and his Spirit working with others at these events and beside me, no matter the situation.

“…My Spirit will go before you into whatsoever place you are sent.” Our family’s walk with Jesus is always taking us on new adventures. Our daughter soon will graduate from high school and begin college; our family will move to Washington, DC; our son will begin a new school; and much more. In our discussions doubts have arisen, and questions of the unknown raise fears sometimes beyond our control. But I know Jesus goes before us and walks with us. Together we witness of the life of Jesus and follow the cross.

Music is a constant in my life, and in reflection, as the sun sets in my mind’s eye, I hear the campfire voices in the distance softly remind me again:

The Lord is my Shepherd I’ll follow him always, he leads me by still waters, I’ll follow him always. Always, always, I’ll follow him always.

—“The Lord Is My Shepherd,”
adapted from Psalm 23

No matter what, no matter where…I follow Jesus and the cross.



One response

31 05 2014
Michael Thede

Susan, beautifully written and spot on. Glad mom shared it with me to read. It is a wonderful journey and we’re all so very blessed in it. Love, cousin Michael

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