My boss proudly posted on our work group chat after his summer holiday that he and his wife had “finally finished the Wainwrights!” Alfred Wainwright wrote seven pictorial guides to the Lakeland Fells between 1952 and 1966, after falling in love with the beauty of the place, and enthusiasts now endeavour to ‘follow in the footsteps of Wainwright’ by walking every route he documented so carefully in these guidebooks. This goal is not an easy one to achieve. It requires dedication, preparation, suitable clothing and footwear, the proper equipment, a reasonable level of fitness - plus a good head for heights and a willingness to scramble over ridges! It is best to walk with someone else, both for company and help when needed, and taking suitable provisions and safety measures is vital. Crucially, this mission takes time, probably years, perhaps for some even a lifetime. And afterwards, apart from the sense of achievement and (hopefully) happy memories, you will need to find a new goal to focus on. When Jesus called his disciples he specifically said, ‘Follow me!’ (Matthew 4 v9, NIV) and obediently they followed him throughout his three-year ministry travelling all over the land of Israel. But Jesus hadn’t called them to join in a physical walk to enjoy the views or improve their step count. These men were to watch their master and learn from what he said and did, so that they could put it into practice in their own lives, and then teach others. Following Jesus is often described as a walk or race in the Bible which requires complete dedication and preparation. We need to read God’s Word (the guidebook) carefully and repeatedly to understand how to be like Jesus. We are told to put on Jesus through baptism (Galatians 3 v27) and clothe ourselves in his characteristics (Colossians 3 v12). It is best to attempt this walk alongside others sharing each other’s burdens as we go, and it will take all this lifetime to complete. The path will be hard at times, with many distractions which could threaten the success of our mission. But we should ‘fix our eyes on Jesus’ (Hebrews 12 v2) and ‘run with perseverance the race marked out for us’ so that we will have the opportunity to live forever in the kingdom of God on a perfected earth, free from the struggles brought about by sin. What a goal to aim for!

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