Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men." And immediately they left their nets and followed him. — Mk 1:16-18
I have never liked being "told" what to do. I quit ballet after a few weeks because I didn't like the teacher telling me what to do at a certain time; I wanted to dance around when and how I pleased. But I also am a people-pleaser and a rule follower, so to be told to do something I don't want to do leaves me in this frustrated state-- don't tell me how to point my toe, because if I do it wrong, or don't feel like doing it at the time, then I'll feel guilty. Someone gave my mom the book The Strong-Willed Child when I was young, and while she still denies that it described me, I'm not so sure it wasn't fairly accurate. I am still strong-willed, and struggle with both wanting to please people and not ever wanting to be "told" what to do. I would much rather be "offered" suggestions that I can take, leave, or manipulate into my own choice. (I am making myself sound so lovely, I know). But what Jesus did with Simon and Andrew, the other disciples who would follow, was not an offer. It was a command-- a command they could reject or obey.
The immediacy with which Andrew and Simon drop their nets is not lost on me. As someone who wants to wrestle with and lay out all the options and Google all case scenarios before I make a decision, that hits me somewhere deep: they didn't know all the answers, they didn't have all the scenarios played out in their heads, they had no idea what they were following. But immediately, they went when they heard the call. RC Sproul in his commentary on Mark says this:
When Jesus approached Simon and Andrew and said, “Follow Me,” He was inviting them to come into His school, to be His students, and His servants. Jesus is saying: If you will follow Me, walk with Me through life, I will teach you the ways of the Kingdom of God. You will learn as you follow; grow as you go. All of life with Me will be a grand lesson. I am not looking for you to adopt My philosophy or to mimic My piety, nor join My religion. I am calling you to accompany Me as I go through life with you. I am not expecting you to be perfect, perform well, or get all the right answers. I am expecting you to follow Me until you gradually become what I am, and until I lead you home to the City of God.
They had no idea what they were getting into. They could never dream what the end result would look like. When I take on a project or a role, I always think with a futuristic lens-- how is this going to turn out, what will it look like when it's over. If I can envision that, then I feel somewhat safe and confident that I can handle the challenge. But that's not at all what Jesus calls the disciples, or you and me, to do. He's saying, "Follow me, and learn on the way what it means to do so." They made a quick decision to join Jesus on a long, unknown journey, but they trusted He would be their teacher and guide, and they were committed no matter the outcome.
Are you willing to make that same choice, to journey with Jesus to places unknown and to be His disciple no matter the outcome? Too often I see my discipleship as a bargaining chip with God. "Okay God, I'm going to trust you with X area of my life, but that better mean that Y circumstance will turn out how I want." How petty and selfish and arrogant to think that I can bargain or barter with God on what it means to be His disciple. Andrew and Simon didn't say, "alright, but we're going to bring our fishing nets just in case this doesn't pan out", or "okay we'll follow, but will do you something for us in return?". They dropped everything, immediately, and followed Him. It's a scary response. But the sure thing is, He will be with them.
Dear God, I am nervous to drop my nets and follow you without having all the answers beforehand. I'm sorry for my lack of faith. Please help me to drop these nets of the comforts of this world and the desire to have all the answers before I answer. With you, I know it's always an adventure, but you'll never leave. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Dig Deeper: How do you answer Jesus' call of discipleship to follow Him? What nets are you struggling to put down because of comfort, or fear of the unknown, or something else?