There is yet more tension in all of this, and it is this recognition that we have that when God asks us to do something, He is there with us. When He sent the disciples out to heal the sick and cast out the demons, He was with them in His power, in His Spirit. When He sent the disciples on ahead of Him in the boat, He was not far away on the water. When the people gathered in Acts, God's Spirit was upon them, touching their tongues with fire.
God is always where His people are.
But that doesn't mean we follow Him there.
What we have to look at is what Jesus very clearly says in the Gospels. He's really got two words to describe what He is asking the people, even the disciples, to do: "Come" and "Go." And the one of these words He uses most frequently is "go."
This doesn't mean He is sending us away from His presence. It doesn't mean that He is kicking back on a recliner somewhere, shooing us around like servants of the rich and famous. It doesn't mean that we go and do this one thing and then come back to Him for another assignment. No, that's not it at all.
Every time Jesus says, "Go," it has one of two implications: "Go and take Me with you, as you have come to know Me here" and "Go, for I am going ahead of you and will meet you there." The fact that Jesus meets us there does not mean we have followed. It can't, for He has not said, "Come."
He has said, "Go."
It's semantics, right? It's just words. What's the difference? Come, go, it's all the same to a people like us who live by the gist of things. We are forever saying one thing while meaning something slightly different and then declaring, "You know what I mean."
But God doesn't speak in "you know what I means." God doesn't say one thing when He means something slightly different. So if God sometimes says "come" and sometimes says "go," then we cannot just say that what God "means" is that we should just "follow Him all the time." If that's what He meant, then that's what He would have said.
When we "go," we go in full recognition that when we arrive, Jesus will already be at work. He will already be doing whatever it is that He's doing in that place, and we are going just to join Him. We show up without any illusions that this is in any way about us. We show up and actively look for Him.
Think about the disciples when Jesus told them to go to Galilee at the empty tomb. Go to Galilee. I am going before you, and I will meet you there. So the disciples go to Galilee, and they know that when they get there, they have to locate Jesus. They have to know what room He's going to be in or what shore He's going to be on. They have to figure out the Jesus thing to do, assume that He is doing it, and go to Him there.
Those of us who are sent today, those of us whose lives are lived on this word, "Go," are doing the same thing. We're showing up where God has sent us, knowing that He is already there, trusting that He is already at work, and actively looking for Him. We're trying to figure out what He's doing, what He's up to, and then joining Him in the work.
The same is true even for the blind men. Jesus was set about a healing work in this world; that's what He was doing. He told these blind men to go home. Not to come, follow Him. Not to join Him on His expedition. But to join Him in His work by going. Think about everyone they met on their way home and in their hometown. Think about everyone who came to hear about this Jesus and to start to maybe even believe in Him because the blind men went home seeing. Think about everyone who would not have known if the blind men had never gone home. Think about the crowds of men and women, hurting men and women, broken men and women, who would have never gone out to see Jesus if the healed had never gone home. It is only by going that they were able to join God in His work. It is only by going home, by taking Jesus with them, that they were able to carve a path for others to come to Jesus.
And isn't that what so often happens?
It is our going that makes it possible for others to come.