What if Jesus asked me to do something that defied human logic, would I? What if he asked me to give up my career? What if he asked me to give up a source of security in my life? What if he asked me to do something I just hadn’t planned on doing? What would I say? Would I do it?
Unfortunately, I already know the answer.
It doesn’t take God asking me to do a big life-changing, path-altering thing for me to balk. All it takes is him asking me to do something that I don’t think is the best thing. Then it starts.
I begin explaining to him…to HIM…why this is a bad idea.
Clearly, he didn’t have all the information when he made this “suggestion,” so I bring him up to speed on factors he perhaps didn’t take into consideration.
Then I mention all the reasons I think what he is “suggesting” won’t work.
Finally, helpfully, I provide my own plan, which is clearly much better.
I do this.
I seldom just flat out refuse to do something I know he wants me to. I reason my way out of it.
The problem is that I’m the one that doesn’t have all the information. For example, I don’t know what will happen in the next five minutes, let alone tomorrow, or a year from now.
I don’t know what is really going on behind the scenes, in a person’s heart, or in events, that significantly impacts how the situation should be handled.
I don’t really know what the best thing is.
When I stop to think about my arrogance it takes makes breath away. But something else takes my breath away…his incredible love and patience with me.
Sometimes he lets me do what I wanted instead of what he said. I see after the fact how much better it would have been if I had obeyed him.
At other times he lets me do what I wanted and then lets me feel immediate pain…consequences…like a parent who corrects a wayward child.
And there are still other times when he just doesn’t let me do it. I head out the door to do whatever I planned and the car won’t start. So I get it jumped. Head out again. The road is closed. I backtrack and head on my way again. Only to discover that the place to which I am going is closed.
At that point, I begin to figure it out.
And I thank him.
My husband says that our prayers are often advice to God on how to handle things…seeing as how he would have trouble figuring it out without us.
I laugh. But then I realize that’s exactly what I do when I pray.
What if I was ready to obey God even when his plan was different from mine? Even if I can think of a million reasons why the “wiser” course would be to do something different?
What if I recognized Jesus as the God of the universe come to earth to rescue us? What if I grasped that nothing I am doing at the moment or plan to do in the next moment could possibly compare with being a part of what he is doing?
What if I gave up things I have been putting my security in because I knew that there is no greater security than being with the One who owns everything and controls everything?
Then I’d be like four guys, who heard what John the Baptizer said about Jesus, spent some time with Jesus and knew he was legit, and then walked away from their security to do what Jesus asked them to do.
To follow him.
If you read Mark 1:16-39 you’ll discover that when Jesus issued the call to follow him to Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John as they were working their day jobs as fishermen, they did. If you read John 1:29-42 you’ll see some of the reasons why.
They had an inkling of who Jesus was. And that was enough.
So, if Jesus walked into my office right now and said, “Donna, come on, I’ve got something different for you,” would I get up and leave behind my computer, my plans, my dreams…my books?!
I sure hope so. I did it once when he first asked me to become his follower.
Back then things weren’t going the way I expected in three major areas of my life: my relationship, my current situation, and my future career path. I kept plowing ahead until the car wouldn’t start, the road was closed, and the destination I was headed toward was no longer available.
Then I decided it was time to let God take control; clearly, I wasn’t doing a very good job on my own.
So one night I prayed, “Lord, I’ll do whatever you want me to. I’ll be whatever you want me to be. And I’ll go wherever you want me to go.”
He took that a lot more literally than I intended.
And a lot more broadly.
I thought we were talking about who I should be dating, whether I should stay in college, and what my future job should be.
Apparently, we were talking about more.
Even now, I keep finding myself in situations where God is asking me to do something I don’t want to do or hadn’t planned on doing. Situations in which he wants me to go somewhere I don’t want to go. Situations in which I have to give up what I want to do and do what he wants instead.
Then I remember that prayer.
That was a more dangerous thing to pray than I realized.
But think about it from God’s perspective. I only prayed that prayer when I had run out of other options.
C.S. Lewis wrote in The Problem of Pain:
I call this a Divine humility because it is a poor thing to strike our colours to God when the ship is going down under us; a poor thing to come to Him as a last resort, to offer up ‘our own’ when it is no longer worth keeping. If God were proud He would hardly have us on such terms: but He is not proud, He stoops to conquer, He will have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to Him, and come to Him because there is ‘nothing better’ now to be had.
Peter discovered that “Divine humility” after he had absolutely denied even knowing Jesus. Three times. Emphatically.
Jesus not only took him back…he came back for him.
In 1 Corinthians 15:5, when Paul is recounting Jesus’ appearances after his resurrection from the dead, he specifically says that Jesus appeared to Peter, and then to the rest of the twelve disciples.
Peter apparently wasn’t with them.
Jesus found him anyway.
And Peter followed…again.
I’m coming to believe that this “following Jesus” business is an ongoing project. I think that’s what Jesus meant when he called those four guys to follow him.
I know that’s what he meant when he called me on the night I prayed that prayer.
Since then, I’ve learned it’s really easy to go back to the fishing job, back to the security.
The trick is to keep putting down the nets and following Jesus.
If you’d like to learn more about Jesus and find out what else happened in Mark 1:16-39 (and a LOT more did!), download a free DIY Bible Study Guide for Mark 1:16-39 and see for yourself.
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