An unfortunate mix-up put an embarrassing blemish on the 54th annual Fourth of July Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, the world’s largest 10K.
In the women’s elite division, defending champion Senbere Teferi led much of the race, but on the final approach to the finish line, sprinting behind three police motorcycle escorts, Teferi followed a policeman who, unexplainably, turned onto a side street.
Her wrong turn cost her the first-place finish. In her exhaustion and confusion, she followed the wrong guy and Fotyen Tesfay won the women’s elite race with a time of 30:43.
Race officials later tweeted: “She (Teferi) was within sight of the finish banner, but we understand in the heat of competition instructions can be misinterpreted. As an organization, we are disappointed whenever we fall short of perfection, and in this case, it appears we did.”
Confusion can easily happen. As I approached the College Park MARTA train station at 5 a.m. Tuesday morning to catch my ride to Lenox Square to run my 17th Peachtree, I had no idea the front parking lot facing Main Street was completely fenced in, eliminating hundreds of spots.
Momentarily, I was confused about where to go, so I followed the pick-up truck in front of me around the side of MARTA and turned right onto a road leading to a dead end. I saw additional parking on the backside of the station but had to figure out how to get there. It finally worked out, but not because I followed a driver who was as bewildered as I was.
Teferi and I learned a critical lesson: be careful whom you follow because he or she may be leading you the wrong way.
There’s one Person we should follow who will never lead us the wrong direction. His name is Jesus. Here are ten reasons to follow Jesus:
First, follow Jesus because He IS the way. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6) If you want certainty of salvation, then receiving Jesus is the way to know for sure you have eternal life.
Second, follow Jesus because He prepares us a place in heaven. He said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).
Third, follow Jesus because Jesus gives a fresh start. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Fourth, follow Jesus because Jesus shows the way. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 12:8).
Fifth, follow Jesus because He promises abundant life. “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Sixth, follow Jesus because He is our source of peace. “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you . . .” (John 14:27).
Seventh, follow Jesus because He gives confidence to overcome and live victoriously. Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Eighth, follow Jesus because He gives strength for daily living “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Ninth, follow Jesus because He completely satisfies spiritually. Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
Tenth, follow Jesus because He invites us to follow Him in salvation, and then in committed discipleship. Numerous times in scripture Jesus commanded, “Follow Me.” He still issues that invitation today.
What does it mean to follow Jesus? It means to know Him, not just know about Him; to live for Him daily, not for myself; to submit to His rule in my life and to surrender my will to His will. It means giving total devotion to Jesus.
Are you willing to follow Jesus?
[David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Georgia. Visit www.mcdonoughroad.org for more information and to view online worship. Visit www.davidchancey.com to see more of Chancey’s writings, including his books.]