My Journey with God's Word

by Paul Desmond

Have you ever had God keep bringing up something in the Bible repeatedly? In the past couple of weeks, there have been nights where in the middle of the night I wake up with the story of Jesus calling His disciples on my mind (Matthew 4:18-22). It’s a story of Jesus that most of us are familiar with and I’ve even taught on this for youth group. It must be just my mind wandering. I know the story, what more do I need to know? Is Jesus telling me something and I am just dismissing it? To be honest, one of my issues I deal with is contempt prior to investigation. This is where I come up with a conclusion, but I never investigate it. But now I read a blog, watch a video, and there it is again, this story! (Matthew 4:18-22) Ok, now what?

Let’s go back a few months, I’m doing my daily walk with Jesus consistently. Some of the big things I do is read, meditate, pray and contemplate using “Lectio Divina.” (Listen to Dave Paolozzi teach on this on the podcast, "The Contemplative Arborist".) The first time I was introduced to this was a few years back when I was enrolled in Vineyard Institute classes. My first reaction was didn’t we get rid of this kind of stuff during the Reformation. All things that might be Catholic or seem to be Catholic need to be dismissed was my opinion. Now I throw in my lack of investigation and I’m not interested; it doesn’t seem to benefit me. So, I humor myself and the group and play along. However, I’m surprised to find value in this. It’s opened this big door for me. I was recently listening to a N.T. Wright podcast and he is talking about how there is a lot of good stuff that the early church did and was thrown out with the Reformation. I think it’s great, most of what the early church fathers did was to get closer and to be formed more like Jesus. I realized that most of my prayer life was for me or others for healing. I never spent time alone, quiet, praying, listening to be formed, shaped to be more Christ-like. I’m a thank you Lord for this meal and let’s get going kind of guy. Being silent is tough. Doing what Jesus did is tough. Every time I do my Lectio Divina it leads to the same subject “Follow Me.”

I now decide to dig deep in these verses. I start off reading the story in different translations, reading different commentaries, looked up all the culture references. I even did some Greek language word study. I learned so much depth in this short but powerful story. One of the big things that really stuck out with me was how Jesus uses the culture of the day to reach people. Telling fisherman that I’m going to make you a fisher of men was a culture reference they understood. At the same time Jesus is doing something radical by fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 9:1-2

1 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future, he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—
2 The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.

Jesus starts in the mess of Galilee, calls His disciples in their mess. While His Kingdom is inbreaking and moving forward the area of Galilee is being transformed and so are His disciples. His call is immediate to the disciples, they drop their nets and follow. In Greek the word follow also means to go after, obey. They didn’t drop their nets to see the show; they knew that they we’re going to be discipled by Jesus. As Isaiah said, “a light has dawned.” There is so much more.

So now what? All this and I still don’t know exactly what this is all about. After reading all about the disciples they didn’t know either. They just followed Him without question. They weren’t not picked because of their great religious training. They weren’t picked because their family had influence. He picked everyday people. They didn’t have to go to a fancy college. They were going to learn on the job. When I became a Sheet Metal Worker, I had to pass a math test when I was interviewed. The union had more requirements than Jesus did. I was never told to drop what you’re doing and follow me, and I’ll make you a sheet metal worker. When he said follow me, he also said he’ll form them and teach them to be fisher of men. Jesus spent His time teaching them, showing them what living a sacrificial life looked like. Most importantly he said follow me and you get to be a part of what I am doing. So that’s the struggle for me. Do I notice His presence in everyday things? Am I willing to drop the net and follow Him even when it’s uncomfortable. It’s not about knowing the answers or getting it right. It’s about being a partner in what Jesus is doing and being transformed into a fisher of men. I think what he wants right now is for me to pay attention to Him and follow Him closely, seek His presences. I really like what N.T. Wright says in Matthew for Everyone. “Sometimes his call comes slowly, starting like a faint murmur and growing until we can no longer ignore it. Sometimes he calls people as suddenly and dramatically as he called Peter and Andrew, James, and John. When that happens to you, by whatever means and at whatever pace, you will know; Jesus has a way of getting through, and whatever we are engaged with—whatever nets we are mending, or fish we are catching—somehow we will be sufficiently aware of his presence and call to know what it is we’re being asked to do.”

Well the one thing I know is He is faithful and he’s forming me into His image. My experience has been that at some point I will get it. I’ll laugh at how low I set the bar. I never expected to be where I’m at in life and could not have comprehended what he had planned for me. While I wait to see what this is all about, I’ll keep seeking His presence but most importantly I need to drop the net.

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