I heard “I have decided to follow Jesus” today, and it reminded of the man who sang at the Foggy Bottom metro stop in Washington, D.C.
In late 2012, I stepped off the Foggy Bottom escalator on a grey, cold morning. I heard a powerful, quiet voice, and I stopped and looked behind me. A man with glasses stood near a short, stone wall. He wore khaki pants, and if I remember correctly, he had layered a faded jean jacket over a hooded sweatshirt. There was a brown box at his feet. He sang,
I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus.
No turning back. No turning back.
I walked a little slower so that I could soak in the song and fought the urge to cry. The words reminded me to keep going and to be faithful because I was doing the right thing.
I wanted to linger, but I walked faster because work started soon. I thought about the man at the metro. It was unusual for someone to sing songs about the Lord in public, particularly first thing in the morning. I wondered if he was homeless. I wondered if he had a wife and children. I wondered about the life experiences that compelled him to sing with so much emotion.
That winter, I took the metro more often than I took the bus because I hoped to hear the man at Foggy Bottom singing.
I did not hear him each time I got off the train, but one morning, I armed myself with the only cash in my wallet and prayed that he would be there. I was nervous as the escalator reached the top, but as I listened as intently as I could, I heard his song above the traffic.
Nervous, I walked to where he stood and put the money in the box. He looked at me and nodded slightly. I wanted to say, “You have no idea what this song means to me. Hearing you sing this song makes me want to cry,” but I didn’t. Instead, I replied with a small smile, turned around, and walked to work slowly.
For reasons that are too numerous to explain, I needed the constant reminder that I had decided to follow Jesus, come what may. I was learning that following Jesus came with great costs and that it was sometimes a very lonely road. But that year, I also learned that while I had the option to turn back, I didn’t want to. I had chosen to follow Him, and even though the road was one I probably would not have chosen if I had know what lied ahead, I still did not want to turn back because Jesus was not behind me but ahead. Turning around would mean denying Him and shattering my testimony. The thought of doing either of those things filled me with fear, so I kept moving even though I did not know where I was going.
Sometimes, I still wonder about the man at the metro. I like to think that he’s still there, singing a song that commuters need to hear, encouraging them to keep going, come what may. At the same time, I hope that he, too, moved on to his next destination.
As I read your article, Hebrews 13:2 jumped to me. I waited, re-read your piece again and again. The more I read it, the stronger I sensed Hebrews 13:2. I wonder if you have considered that you may have encountered the angle of God without knowing it at a crucial time—“For reasons that are too numerous to explain, I needed the constant reminder that I had decided to follow Jesus, come what may.” In your articulation, I see Jesus’ promise at work: I will never leave you, or forsake you (Deut. 31:6; Hebrews 13:5). “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”
I have wondered that. 🙂