March 23, 2011

Follow

This is the first installment of a ten-part series on my trip to Haiti—the things witnessed, the relationships formed and the experiences shared. And how God revealed His glory through it all.

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.” (Matthew 4:19-20)

Of the four mission trips I’ve been on, the “roster” for this one was the most unsettled. Our team continually fluctuated as folks signed up, cancelled, re-registered and added on at the last minute. Plans changed. Minds changed. Circumstances changed. I didn’t know who or how many people would end up in Haiti.

Thankfully Bob, our leader, remained flexible through the flux because by the end of the trip I saw how God had specifically called each person to be there—in His own timing and for His own purpose.

How remarkable that out of the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who heard testimonies by or received personal invitations from former Haiti missionaries, this exact group of 18 ended up together in Haiti. Certainly divine guidance played a role, but each of us also had one important thing in common—our willingness to say “yes” to that guidance.

That “yes” required letting go—of time, money, comfort, convenience and more. Many received criticism and questioning about their decision to go. Yet each of us persisted and knowingly made sacrifices. Sacrifices like:
… saying goodbye to sad children (and spouses) who didn’t want us to go away for ten days.
… traveling to a place that might be unsafe and dangerous.
… leaving behind the comforts and conveniences of home.
… missing important family activities.
… trading in vacation time and money.
… having no idea what we were getting ourselves into.
… setting aside business opportunities and possibly losing income.
… going even though we felt completely unqualified.

But doesn’t Jesus ask for personal sacrifice—and a bold response—from His disciples?

In Matthew 4:19-22, Jesus walked along the Sea of Galilee and called out to Andrew and Peter as they fished, “Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people.”

“At once they left their nets and followed him.” James and John respond the same way: “immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.”

Let the disciples' response sink in. Their boldness is truly remarkable.

Jesus didn’t tell them where they’d be going. He didn’t give them time to make a decision. And He wasn’t clear on what they’d be doing (because “fishing for men” doesn’t make sense).

And the disciples didn’t offer any qualifications for their calling. They had no religious pedigree, advanced education or prior experience. Truly, it seems their only credential was their willingness to say, “Yes.”

How easy it would have been to say, “No.” Or, “Not now.” Or, “Let me think about it.” To have considered calendars, comfort, commitments, convenience or common sense in making a decision. Surprisingly the disciples didn’t do that. They dropped what they were doing, left their work and their families, and followed Jesus.

Perhaps a few family or friends supported their decision, but somehow I doubt it. In fact, I bet plenty of folks said they were crazy!

But just as Jesus invited the disciples, He invites us: “Come, follow me.”

We cannot be a follower of Jesus if we’re not willing to actually follow. If we’re not willing to set down our “nets”—our work, families, fears, plans and expectations. To boldly step out of our comfort zones.To say, "Yes."

To follow Jesus we have to move—from where we are, to where He is. Wherever that may be.

Saying "yes" to Haiti was a bold step, but I want to live with this same willingness to follow in my day-to-day. Even still I cling to comfort. I cherish convenience. I applaud common sense. And I crave control. Yet with each “yes” to follow Him to places like Haiti, I let go a little more. And in the letting go there’s a finding that initially frightens but ultimately frees and fills.

One of my friends took a LONG time to say “yes” to Haiti. In the end she said, “God put a call on my heart that was so strong I just had to follow.”

Where is Christ calling you to follow Him? What is keeping you from setting down your nets and taking bold—and obedient—step just like the disciples…just like my friend…and following Him?

Sunrise from the roof.
Mountains upon mountains. With people living in poverty.
Rural houses
Camp Hope
Following up the mountain to Balizaj

2 comments:

Sue J. said...

That rich young man had a bit too much time to think and ask questions. His loss in not following Jesus in that moment was certainly greater than his gain in keeping his wealth--even if he did keep the commandments.

In the call, Christ is saying there is something greater out there; something to grow you to be more like Me. How much faith do we have to say "yes"?

Though I have not received a call to minister outside the country, I do find that there are many to be served all around me. Reaching out to the poor, the elderly, yes, even those hungry for guidance middle school boys has certainly challenged me to go beyond my comfort zone in serving Him. (One of those boys is moving to Haiti, as it turns out....)

Sassy Granny ... said...

His was/is such a simple request: to follow. Oh how we muck that up!

This is a timely post; one we can all ponder for days on end. I would add to it: If what/who I'm following leads somewhere, will it be a blessable destination when I eventually arrive?

So blessed to be following Him - wherever He leads!

Kathleen