to follow Jesus, we must leave all else behind

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Matthew 4:18-22

It is striking here, how the first disciples Jesus called left everything to follow him. Notably that included James and John leaving their father in the boat by himself, to follow Jesus. They left everything, period. I’m not sure that means they could never fish again. It’s just that this would no longer be their occupation and preoccupation. They would now be following Jesus.

I found these words from James as rendered in The Message interesting in relationship to this:

If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.

James 1:5-8; MSG

The idea of “keeping all your options open” doesn’t work when one would follow Christ. You must leave all else behind if you’re really to follow the Lord. Or else at best, you won’t be a good follower.

This is much easier said than done. The disciples got it right, at the beginning. They answered Jesus’s call immediately. But that doesn’t mean it was easy for them to stay on track. In a sense, once they started on this journey, there was a commitment and confirmation which went along with it. So it’s not like it was a snap of the fingers to get off that road, either.

Much later, when Peter was the established leader of the early church, we remember that he wasn’t true to the gospel, so was confronted by Paul. In that sense, he meandered from his following of Jesus. No one is immune to this.

I find this helpful in this for me:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.

Proverbs 3:5-6; MSG

For me to follow Christ I have to turn my back on what comes oh so natural to me: not “letting go, and letting God.” Somehow thinking whatever depends on me. I want to simply follow on, following Jesus with others. In and through Jesus.