The Real Following

Social media has grown in exponential popularity within recent years.  One has only to log in to any number of sites to find millions of users with thousands of followers – Twitter included.  Click a button, and all of a sudden you have followers.  Click again and you can unfollow to your hearts content.  My Twitter following has grown quickly in the last couple of weeks.  I don’t even want to begin to try and figure out why.

Reflection On Floor-Photo By Jennifer Upton
Reflection On Floor-Photo By Jennifer Upton

The thought struck me tonight though: One thousand plus followers, but how many do I really know?  Do I need to know them?  They matter, but let’s be real here.  I can’t engage with a 1,000 people and keep my sense of sanity, authenticity and autonomy; or can I?  That’s a whole lot of friendship building for which I may feel ill-equipped.  I’m not expecting to “make” friends on Twitter; but it does provide me with an amazing opportunity to learn from diverse people.  It provides a common space where there are not geographical divides. 

It may not be the best avenue for friend-making (all those social media venues), but thank God I have real live connections with family and friends near and far.  But the fact remains, connecting with people face-to-face is powerful.  Then again there is the social aspect to these new media forms – a chance to connect, literally, with the world – it’s unprecedented.

Community by Jennifer Upton
Community by Jennifer Upton

Such thoughts remind me how grateful I am that I’m intimately known and connected to God who knows my name, my face, and my life. He’s quite familiar with very line and crease and wrinkle; He knows each one.  I am not separated from Him.  I’ve been invited and so have you.  It’s your choice to follow Him or not follow Him and even to unfollow Him.  Only in this case they stakes are different – your eternity and destiny.

Tonight Psalm 139 echoes in my mind.

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.  (NKJV 1020)

There is a melodic peace in the revelation that I am known to God and by God – like He knows my name and all the numbers on my head.  Even more heart melting is the fact that He pursues us and doesn’t give up on us.  His goodness and mercy follow us all our lives (Psalm 23).

Beloved, He desires for you to know how much He loves you.

Couple Holding Hands Walking- Photo By Jennifer Upton
Couple Holding Hands Walking- Photo By Jennifer Upton

When I chose to follow after God, I got more than I bargained for; I got love unconditional, peace I couldn’t pay for, hope I couldn’t afford, and everlasting life.  How does this even relate to social media following and unfollowing?

God has no unfollow button – at least – I haven’t read about one.  He opts into our lives when we choose Him.  And even when we don’t choose Him, He has still gone out of His way to draw us (Romans 5:8).  He doesn’t check out, unfriend, delete, block, or spam us when we’ve done Him wrong. He is steady, faithful, longsuffering, forgiving, and kind.  He knows we are frail, but it sticks it out with us.  When I follow God, I get all of Him; but more than anything I get to know Him, and He knows me.  Of course He was following me long before I ever followed him.  Jeremiah spoke of this tenacious love-following in chapter 31; “The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn you’” (NKJV 1279).  This is an amazing and extravagant love!

So here it is – the gist of it all:

I am known. I am not a face lost in the crowd. I am not just a fringes follower. I am not some stranger He’s added to His list of unknown, maybe-I-might-want-to-know-you, just-building-numbers followers. I am not just another digit adding to His ego.  To know Him through Christ is to be known, revealed, seen, and heard. His approval is on my life as I seek to follow hard after Him.  My following may falter.  I am imperfect, but I have the promise of reconciliation.  I have the promise of Hebrews 13:5; “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (NKJV 2100).  I can rest in this hope.  God ain’t giving up on me.  This is such a welcome relief.  God is not finicky, shifty, wishy-washy, prone to the whim of others, easily swayed, or uncertain.  He is rock-solid.  He is constant.  He never changes.

I don’t “need” followers to affirm my being, my heart, my being, my purpose, or my life.  Such solid assurance can only come from my Maker.

At the Computer Pondering
At the Computer Pondering

So tonight I rethink social media.  It is not my source.  It is not my life.  It is not my provider.  Yes, it has wonderful and many advantages, but at the end of the day social media cannot do for my soul what intimate connection can.  Tonight I say thank you God for sticking with me.  Tonight I say thank you family and friends who have stuck with me.  I love you dearly and treasure you in my heart.

To follow or not follow.

That is the question; but tonight whose following really matters in your life?  I’d love to hear your story.

 

Reference:

NKJV Study Bible.  Radmacher, gen ed. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997.

5 thoughts on “The Real Following”

  1. I can certainly relate! because of my online business it is important to use social media but you can get so caught up in it and it feels like you are running in circles and getting nowhere! So much time and effort and for what??? I am so glad Father God doesn’t unfollow us He is always right by our side if we want Him. What an amazing God! I love all the scriptures you used as they are some of my favorites as well. I am grateful though to be able to read your blog and to get to know you as you Shine, Shimmer and Glow! Thank you

    1. Jeanne, so true. What I failed to mention in my post was how overwhelming it can be to even try and keep up with 1000s of 1000s of followers. I. Just. Can’t. Do it! My take away is that I am so grateful for a God who is most intimately connected to us and has relationship with each of is individually. AND – He doesn’t kiss and tell. We are guard in Him and with Him – I think I know what my next post will be about. Thanks for reading and sharing! 😉

  2. My computer did one of those automatic reboots for Microsoft updates, and I think my comment got lost, so I’ll try again – just delete if the other one went through!

    Your article causes me to meditate on the privilege of being known intimately by God. With social media I sometimes feel overwhelmed and lost in the midst of this big media rush… actually, it often overwhelms me!

    My best relationships are a combination of both offline and online presence, so I’m 100% grateful for social media, but I think we all long for significance in our relationships and not just quantity… finding the ones we can really identify with and walk with.

    I like sharing our blog posts most of all, because you really get to know a person more deeply when you read what’s on their heart and mind over a period of time.

    Can you just imagine all the sound bytes God receives on a daily basis – all the internal status updates, the prayers… and on top of it all, He’s not just a massive computer but a Father who loves each one of us intimately… mind boggling! Great post today, Marvia 🙂

  3. Susan,
    You and I seem to be cut from the same cloth – I am a quality time person. Intimate connection with few rather than the masses is far more important to me. But I’m learning to expand my circle, but I also hear the Spirit whisper to remember whom I really made for. God can handle it. My next post is about that very thing. Thanks for reading.

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