Yesterday’s Bible was titled Jesus Calls the First Disciple (Mark 1:16-20). Even as a teenager this simple well known passage always presented problems for me. After all, what self-respecting fisherman would just drop his nets, give up his livelihood and take a chance on an unknown itinerant preacher. With some research and some thinking, I began to see this scene with new eyes. First of all, Simon, Andrew, James and John were probably Jesus’ contemporaries and maybe even his friends. Chances are they had heard Jesus preach often. Together they may have laid plans for travelling together. Often when we read the Bible, or any news story, we get the end result of a long process. Probably the hardest part of leaving to follow Jesus, would be accepting this Jesus whom they had known for a long time, as their leader.
In the church we use this passage to talk about following Jesus today. Can we answer God’s call? What is God calling us to do? Most of us tend to clutch tightly the net of our lives as they are. Our fingers are entwined the nets webbing and we struggle with letting go.
I remember my call to write, publish books and tell stories. First, God pushed me to tell stories as a break from the regular sermons I was preaching each week. Then my congregations pushed me to gather my stories together for publication. I thought about that and prayed about it for several years. Finally, I took half a step, let go of the net with one hand, and accepted a part time position so I would have more time to write. Five years later I was ready to let go both hands and move into this new ministry of writing. For some of us it takes many years of hearing God’s call before we finally relinguish our hold on our lives and say yes to God. When the yes finally comes, suddenly it feels as if we have literally just dropped our nets to follow Jesus. It is only then that this scripture passage makes sense. Although the process was long, interesting, and often challenging, the final yes just blends it all together. In many ways we feel as if God called and we dropped our lives and followed.