By: Patty Joyce
As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed Him. When He had gone a little farther, He saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed Him. Mark 1:16-20 NIV
When I read this passage of Scripture, the words at once and without delay caught my attention. Simon and Andrew left their nets immediately upon being called, as did James and John, however, surprisingly enough it says “they left their father in the boat and followed Him.” It’s one thing to leave hired men, but to leave your father to follow a stranger?! Hmm...quite a bit to think about.
Would I be so quick to follow Jesus without even an introduction? My mind ran wild as I pictured Jesus visiting me on my lunch break. He handed me an envelope and said to get back in touch with Him after I had read the contents. Knowing who He was, I accepted His offer. My lunch hour was almost over, so I quickly got back to my desk and put the envelope in the drawer with my purse so I would remember to take it home. I could have read it at work, but I wanted to give my employer all of my attention – something I’m sure Jesus would approve of.
My imagination continued. I saw myself leaving work, envelope in hand, to return home. The business of the evening began with changing clothes, talking to my daughter and son about their day at school and preparing dinner. Following dinner, washing dishes, watching some TV, and then baths before bed time, I finally found a few minutes to myself. Looking for my purse, I saw the sealed envelope. How could I have waited so long to open an envelope from the Son of God? Oh well, I would read it now.
I found a comfy spot on the den sofa, grabbed a soda, and opened the envelope. Inside was an Application for Being a Laborer in the Kingdom of God and a job description. Wow...me in a Kingdom! Who would pass up an opportunity like that? Surely the starting salary, hours, benefits, vacation days, and opportunities for promotion would be better than any position I had ever held.
After filling out my full name, address, phone number, next of kin in case of an emergency, and references from former employers, I started to read the job requirements:
A teachable spirit
A love for all people
A wanderlust for traveling to unknown parts
A forgiving heart
A commitment of loyalty and truth
And more as you become an integral part of the Kingdom
Yes, I can do this. I love to learn, I have a warm personality, I like to travel, and have forgiven, although difficult at times, am loyal to family and friends, and rarely tell a lie. I’m sure I can handle more requirements considering my outstanding evaluations I receive each year.
I read on to see a new list, that of the job description and its benefits:
Starting salary – 0 with the same increase each year
Hours – Twenty-four/seven (24/7?)
Daily reading and studying the Bible (All those thees and thous never made sense to me.)
Daily quiet time including devotions, Christian music, and prayer (Who has time after a full day of work, children, and a home to keep?)
A faith that can move mountains
Surrendering your life to God
Being in the world, but not of it
Giving and not expecting to receive
Dying to self (What??)
Suffering for the sake of Jesus (I don’t like pain.)
Sharing with others this Good News which is the opportunity you are receiving today
We are not told what these early disciples were thinking, however, if they had even a little bit of my imagination it may have looked like this. You see, our commitment to Christ should be weighed, and we should take into consideration what is required. Being a Christian is not a job offer, but instead a new-life offer. When we allow our hearts to be open to the Truth, that is Christ Jesus, we are offered an exchange – our life for a new life in Christ.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
My real story was not like the disciples. It was neither immediate obedience, nor like my imaginary story. However, looking back, I can see it was no less compelling. I was thirty-six and very much a part of the world. After a wild summer night, upon returning home and sitting on the side of my bed, I heard words in my head, “Your life is going to change.” Ok – I thought I could die, that would be a change, or we could move, or something could happen to the kids, that would be a change. Strangely enough, there was no fear or apprehension attached to the words, so I dismissed the thought.
The next day I heard the voice a second time, “If you don’t change your way of living, you will never be happy.” Again, I let the thought go and enjoyed the rest of the day. The following day, while sitting outside on my lunch break with a friend having small talk, I shared that I was getting tired of my life cycle. Everything I had always done, now seemed to leave me feeling empty. My co-worker was so patient. She just listened and then at the end, she simply offered to bring me a book that I may like. Then to my surprise, I actually did. It was by Robert Schuller of the Crystal Cathedral. I remember his words about peace and fulfillment caused an inner calming effect. I don’t remember all the details, but I know he introduced through his book Who the Lord is.
When I returned the book, she simply brought me another. I was delighted! It had a green cover with pictures of people smiling and looking very happy. It was entitled The Way. I started reading it that very night and suddenly realized it was the Bible. I can’t tell you what I read, except that I couldn’t put it down. I propped it up and read while having my morning coffee, every spare moment I had, and late into the night. I couldn’t contain my excitement. I had to tell my friend what was happening. I don’t remember her exact response, just that it was something about the Lord. Regardless of what she said, I knew something was happening to me.
Another friend called within the same week. I was always amazed when she shared how difficulties in her life were taken care of and that she attributed it to “the Lord.” I remember wanting to be like her, but was still too into my own way of doing things. This time was different.
As soon as I picked up the phone and she identified herself, I blurted out, “You’ll never guess what has happened!”
She answered with, “I could tell it in your voice when you answered the phone. I have been praying for you for years.”
“Why did He wait so long?” I asked.
“You would have said no. It had to be in His timing,” she replied.
She then invited me to a gathering she thought I would enjoy. Eagerly, I said yes!
I still remember the white sundress with little blue flowers I wore that night. My mother had made it for me with the utmost care, and I loved it. As I approached the building with my friend, I felt anticipation building like a child going to the circus for the first time. Inside, I saw men and women raising their hands and singing beautiful choruses I had never heard. During the music, I felt like someone was raising my arms as I experienced my first worship service, a glorious moment never to be forgotten. As I left the building, I felt squeaky clean and like I was walking on air – somewhat like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz as she clicked her ruby red slippers and repeated, “There’s no place like home . . . there’s no place like home.” Only, I left there, in my white sandals, with wordless joy, thinking, “There’s no place like Jesus, there’s no place like Jesus.”
My many years of religion and church attendance suddenly became a relationship with the Lover of my soul! Someone told me, “Jesus tapped you on the shoulder and asked, ‘Do you want to come with Me?’” Everything in me shouted, “Yes, Lord, Yes!” Within one month, my worldly influences disappeared and were replaced with a community of saints. Not as fast as Mark describes, but fast enough to change a life.
So, here I am some forty years later, with Jesus stories too many to write in this post, but still visiting that night that is forever etched upon my heart. Scripture tells us that God wants everyone to come to repentance, and He is personally inviting, calling, and reaching for us. Each of us have a unique and intimate opportunity to say, “Yes, Lord, Yes.”
If not, I pray you will or that your relationship is rekindled with the One Who gave His life for you:
Dear Father, thank you for the opportunity to accept Jesus’ invitation. Also, if I have neglected Him of late, please rekindle the loving relationship we once had. In Jesus’ glorious name, Amen.