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When Jesus says, “Follow me.”

Luke 5:1-11
v11  So they … left everything and followed him.

Empty nets
It has been a long frustrating, fruitless night for Simon and his two partners, James and John.  All night long they have fished.  They have let down their nets, time and again and gone through the back-breaking process of drawing the nets to shore—empty!  They have tried different angles, different places, everything they can think of, every trick they know after many years fishing this lake.  Nothing worked.  Finally as the sun rises, exhausted and in a poor mood they pull their boats up on shore and begin the job of washing their nets—a final blow to their spirits—washing the nets which have remained empty all night.

Some nerve
As they go through the motions of this difficult and monotonous routine, out of the corner of Peter’s eye, a crowd appears by the lake.  In the center is a man surrounded by people pressing to get as close as possible to hear what he is saying.

As they watch and strain to hear what he’s saying, he walks over to Simon’s boat and gets in it.  “He’s got some nerve, Simon thinks to himself.”  Then he realizes who it is.  It’s the man Jesus he has been hearing about.

“Simon, could I trouble you to put your boat into the water and move out a little way from the shore?”

I’ll do it
For some reason, Simon does what he asks.  And he listens to what he says.  And he has never heard the likes of it before—no one every spoke like him.  Nice words, but just words!  Then he finishes speaking and Simon hears him speaking to him.  “Go out into deeper water.  Over there, cast your nets.”  Simon is too tired to argue and senses the easiest way to get out of this is to humor him.  Still he can’t resist protesting.  “We’ve fished all night and caught nothing, but I’ll do it.”

Fish and more fish
And then as they begin to draw the nets in they see fish—more fish then they’ve ever seen in a net.  It’s more than they can handle.  Some of the strands of the net begin to break.  The call for help—the second boat comes and the weight almost sinks them but finally they get the catch to shore.  They are astonished, frightened, elated, mystified.  Suddenly they realize they are in the presence of the holy and they are reminded of their Un holy lives.

Don’t be afraid, from now on you will catch people.
And they left everything and followed Jesus.

This story reminds us that GOD OFTEN INTERUPTS OUR LIFE—“Can I borrow your boat?” God gets our attention often in the middle of something else.  It is not always when we would expect—in church, a Bible study, or even during prayer.  It may be on the job (like here), on a journey (The Apostle Paul) or maybe in the midst of our sleep.  A cousin of mine was on a business trip in a hotel room when God called him to ministry.

So it can be a little inconvenient.  I don’t have time right now.  Can’t this wait until later?  Inconvenient, perhaps, but not all that difficult or earth-shaking—it’s something that stops us just long enough— for God to make Himself known—“Try again.”

I can imagine Peter thinking,  “This won’t work.  I’m a life-time fisherman, for goodness sake.  I know how to fish.”  I know how to live my life.

“Try Again.”

“For most people the disaster of life is that they give up just one effort too soon.” Carl F.H. Henry

There is no perfect set of circumstances.  To wait for that is to never begin.  Jesus often asks us attempt the impossible.  This is the first step and when we take it, we find out THIS IS GOD.  We have met the Almighty.  And when we do, like Peter, we realize how unworthy we are.

Now the invitation…
Leave it all.

Nothing less will do. The issue is not everyone leaving your occupation or residence but making your self available to God. For most of us it is about living a new way where we are—job, school, neighborhood.

But make no mistake, God’s call is not to ease and comfort but to adventure/challenge/meaning. Some time ago I read this story:

The great explorer, Sir Francis Drake, was attempting to recruit a number of young men for an upcoming exploration. He gathered them around and told the group that if they came with him they would see some of the most marvelous things their eyes could ever behold—sandy white beaches, juicy fruits, foreign peoples, priceless treasures, and gorgeous landscapes. And he told them that this wild adventure could be theirs if they came with him. Not one of them enlisted for the journey.
The next day a different group came out. Drake told them that if they came with him they would encounter storms that would terrify them into tears. Tiger winds would hammer them and blow them off course for months. Water would frequently be scarce. At times they will be so thirsty that their very souls would cry out for simply one drop of water. In short, danger would always be their constant companion. Drake concluded by declaring that if they could handle these things, the joys of exploration would exceed their wildest dreams. Every single one of them in the group joined Sir Francis Drake that day, some did not even go home to say goodbye to their families, they just boarded the boat eager for the journey.

This is how God calls us. Jesus promises not ease and comfort but a cross and, in the end, incredible joy. He says, “Follow me.”

Picture from the Web Gallery of Art

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