My childhood was filled with Sunday School songs and stories about Jesus calling His disciples to “follow Him.” I was challenged to be a “fisher of men” like them.
As I look back, I realize how numb I was to the reality of what those stories were saying. These men were in the middle of their normal, daily lives. They weren’t looking for God to do something huge. They weren’t fasting and praying for direction, or impatiently biding their time until God uprooted them. They were fishermen, tax collectors, and everyday people.
Matthew 4:18-22 records Jesus walking beside the Sea of Galilee. He comes upon two brothers, Simon (called Peter) and Andrew. “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men,” Jesus says. Matthew tells us that “at once they left their nets and followed Him” (4:20).
An identical scenario is depicted in the next two verses with James and John, the sons of Zebedee.
Then, in Matthew 9:9, Jesus walks up to a tax collector named Matthew and says to him, “Follow me.” Again, scripture states that Matthew got up and followed Jesus.
In an instant, each one was on the adventure of his life. Physical healings, casting out of demons, raising people from the dead — these men saw and performed miracles that were beyond belief.
Reading these accounts as an adult, I’m amazed at how easily these men immediately dropped what they were doing to follow Jesus. They didn’t ask Him how they would live, where they would sleep, or if He had dental. It doesn’t appear that they even thought twice about their decision or hesitated. Instead, these men forsook the livelihoods they’d been trained in, left their families and friends behind, and literally followed in Jesus’ footsteps.
Sometimes I wonder if I’d have been so quick to follow.
I’m a confessed perfectionist and control freak. In my day-to-day life I have “to-do” lists and calendar reminders. I find it’s easy to forget that each day I’m supposed to look to God for provision, direction, and instruction. Instead I make plans with friends, worry over bills, and muddle my way along.
Fortunately, like the disciples, God moves unexpectedly in my life too.
There have been times when God has uprooted me, shook me free from my sense of self-reliance, and flung me fully into the security of His lap.
I remember when I was 6-months pregnant with my daughter. At the time, my husband Josh and I lived in Washington State, close to all of our family. In many ways, life was comfortable. We led a college-age ministry at our church. Josh worked construction and I stayed at home with our 18-month old son.
But we also felt stressed financially and longed to move forward in our desire to work in ministry. That’s when we sensed God leading us to sell our home and move to Southern California so Josh could finish Bible College.
At first we thought, What a crazy idea! Where would we live? Where would Josh work? What about insurance? I was filled with questions, fear, and anticipation.
Not wanting to make a hasty decision, we spent a couple of months in prayer and sought out advice from people we respected. In the end, we knew that God was asking us to trust Him with the details.
Throughout the process, I kept picturing a scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Indy has to step out off a cliff, trusting that there’s an invisible bridge to keep him from falling. Josh and I committed to focus our eyes on God and take that step forward, trusting that He would support us in ways we couldn’t yet see.
A month and a half after the birth of our daughter, I found myself driving with her in our car south on I-5 toward California. Josh was behind me with our 2-year-old son in a U-Haul full of furniture. We had a strong belief that God would provide for all our needs.
And He did.
Within a week of arriving in Orange County, Josh had a full-time job at the college he attended. With it came insurance for our entire family and a discount on his tuition.
Since we were returning to the church we attended when we were first married, we had a strong community of friends to help us transition. Additionally, the church had apartments on its campus and provided us with housing.
God provided for us physically, financially, and emotionally in ways I never could have foreseen.
As a wife and mom, sometimes I lose perspective and get caught up in the barrage of responsibilities and “musts” that assault me daily. I forget that ultimately it’s not my life to control, but God’s. Like Jesus’ disciples, I want to be able to hear Him beckon me to follow His lead, and willingly follow His footsteps without reservation.
Our move from Washington State to California taught me that there’s no need to worry, that God will provide for my needs.
And that’s the excitement of living fully in God’s will and leaning not on my own understanding. It’s a wild, breathless trip that’s introduced me to places, people, and situations that are beyond anything I could ever ask or imagine. I’m not saying that it’s always easy or fun, but I’ve come to realize that I wouldn’t want to live my life any other way.