If Jesus has done all that for me, I will follow him
One of the most vivid memories from my childhood is that of a tinworker from Llanelli preaching in church. He explained how he had first met with Jesus his Saviour. When he explained what the Bible said, it seemed as though he was speaking only to me. He spoke slowly, convinced every word was vitally important. What struck home was that if the Lord Jesus has done all that for me I must follow him.
After church I remember how we crowded into my grandmother’s house. Everyone talked about the meeting and as we sang there were tears on people’s faces. I wondered why.
We had the customary cup of tea and sandwiches before we started on the journey home. As we walked I thought hard on those words, ‘If Jesus has done all that for me I will follow him’. It was the same for the disciples in the Bible; Jesus said to them, ‘If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me’ and they did. It was a simple thing to do really but at times it proved to be quite difficult.
You see, rugby ultimately became a big part of my life. I played from a teenager until I was thirty-four, and then I qualified as a WRU referee. The very first top-class match I was given to referee was on a Good Friday; I had to reject it as I wanted to be at church instead. I was told I wouldn’t get another game like that but the next month when my appointments came through, I had the Australian tourists. I was soon refereeing in England, Scotland and France. I was on top of the world and at the top of my career but I was still following the Lord Jesus by putting him first in everything.
Then on three successive Sundays we had three different preachers, who had the same text, Hebrews 12:1-3:
‘Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus… who… endured the cross, scorning its shame…’
And I thought, ‘Lord, you’re talking to me about rugby. It’s hindering my walk with you’. But I didn’t want to give up rugby and I made lots of excuses, like ‘I can speak to the lads about the Lord’ which I could, and ‘it’s not sinful’ which it wasn’t. But I came to realise that wasn’t the point really. If I was to follow Jesus, I had to put him first in everything, and everything else second. I knew I couldn’t give him everything. Something had to go. And I could never refuse doing things for Jesus, so if I could do something for him, then I would. So I gave all the rugby up. I was sad to finish but I was doing it for the Lord so that I could serve him better. Those words still come back to me, ‘If Jesus has done all that for me I will follow him’. Giving him my very best, my all, is the least I can do.