Many times I read the scriptures and I ask myself a series of questions. But the one that generally fills my mind is, “I wonder what the whole story is?” This is the case for me with these verses in the book of Matthew. As Lori and I are “letting go” of most of our worldly possessions, I can’t help but wonder what it was like for the disciples when Jesus called them to leave it all. The narrative goes something like this…
As Jesus was walking along the Sea of Galilee he saw a couple of brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew. These two guys owned a fishing business and they were casting their nets into the sea. Jesus said a few simple words to them, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. (matt4:18-20 paraphrased)
Now that seems simple enough. They immediately dropped their nets. Where’s the rest of the story? Where’s the part where they grieved over the loss of their career and their business? Or the verses that tell us they had a hard time leaving their kids, their pets, and their house? What about their income options? I’m pretty sure they made a pretty decent living as fishermen and now they are leaving it all behind?
Matthew withholds all of that information. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Matthew writes exactly what God wants us to know. There isn’t a word left out that could describe the scene in a way that would allow us to understand it better. It’s simply “immediately they left their nets.”
I believe God wants me to know this today because He is looking for my heart. The more I read the story of the rich young ruler in Matt 19, the more I understand his struggle. Now do I believe God is saying everyone should sell all they own to prove their faith in Christ? Not at all… and I don’t believe that is the heart of the story. But what I do think Jesus is saying to the rich young ruler is, “Are you willing to give up anything I ask for my names sake?” It is the attitude of the heart that Jesus is looking for. The kind that says I am not willing to allow anything to come between me and God. Not people, not possessions. Whatever I have is His to use to display God’s love to the world.
So if these verses about following Christ don’t address my struggle with letting go of the nets, then where can I turn?
- When I have anxieties about giving up my career and not having enough, where can I get assurance that God will take care of us? (Matt 6:25-34, Phil 4:6, 1Pet 5:7)
- When I can’t seem to carry the burden any longer and I am pressed in from every side? (Matt 11:28, Isa 55:1-3, 2Cor 1:3-4)
- When people tell me that giving up our jobs, our home, our American dream is ridiculous? (John 15:18-20, Luke 6:22, 1John 3:13)
- and so on and son on…
These are just of few of the struggles we have found ourselves working through as we prepare to drop our nets. But in spite of it all we have learned utter dependence on the grace and hope that can only come from Jesus. Lori read a quote the other day that said, “You don’t really understand the truth of the Scriptures until you’re forced to walk in them.” Or something like that… As we continue to walk in those truths, they are coming more and more alive to us.
Thank you so much for being a part of this walk with us… There is no way we could do it alone!