John Hamrick was an artist — a gifted artist — and even more than just being an artist, he was an artisan. His interests covered a wide range of artistic endeavors. John drew his last sketch and his last breath in July 1997. From there, he entered into that realm of life and beauty and design that the Bible says, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Cor. 2:9).
A friend of his who was attending his funeral, a friend with whom Hamrick had gone to college for four years and had stayed in touch with throughout life, wanted to share a word about John. They had been good friends during those college years. They were in touch and always good friends through life although they had different approaches to life. Both of them were artistic, both of them had studied art, and both of them had pursued artistic endeavors. His friend said that every time he and John would meet, John would ask him the same one question, “Have you learned to draw yet?” He said that sometimes he would tell John, “I have a degree in drawing and have a Master’s degree in art. Doesn’t that tell you something?” John would reply to his friend, “No, that doesn’t tell me anything. Have you learned to draw yet?” While he made his living drawing, the friend had not lived up to an artistic excellence or the expectations of John but they were great friends.
The friend reflected on the last time they saw each other. They just happened to be at the Farmer’s Market in Jackson gazing at all of the good things there were to buy and eat: fresh fruits and vegetables, and anything and everything that would appeal to help you put on weight. John asked his friend, “How do you ever expect to lose weight coming down here to the Farmer’s Market and buying all this delicious food?” His friend replied that he wanted to experience everything that life had to offer and he would worry about losing weight later. Soon John got in his truck to leave, rolled down the window, and asked his friend one last time, “Have you learned to draw yet?” His friend smiled and said, “I’m working at it,” and they went their separate ways. It was their last meeting.
Numerous times I have thought about those two men and the question that always seemed to rise in their conversation. I thought about it in terms of the family of God as we get together on Sundays or special occasions during the week and how many times we ought to pose the question to one another and simply ask, “Have you learned to walk with Jesus?” You see, it was our Lord who said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24). There it is — follow Me.
Jesus invited us to come on a journey with Him. Walk with Me. Follow Me. It is so easy for us to get diverted into doing other things that we think are essentials to being a Christian, like attending meetings or displaying our gifts whether they be musical or verbal or even expressions of kindness. Still, the Christian life comes down to doing what Jesus said when we commit our lives to Him: follow Me. Are you walking with Jesus? Sure, there are the probing questions that we could pose one to another or just to ourselves that have to do with our growth and understanding of what He has asked us to be and to do for the stewardship of our lives as committed to Him in doing what He has called us to do. In incredible simplicity every day we could be asked or pose the question to ourselves, “Have you learned to walk with Jesus?”
I am so grateful for the gifted people I know. Some of them have incredible talents. Others of them are brilliant in their understanding of the world or theology or medicine or science.
The list of life’s skills and abilities is almost endless. Still, one simple but overwhelming question could wrap itself around our hearts and say, “Have you learned to walk with Jesus?” If not, take some steps in that journey today.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.