Walking along the beach of Lake Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers: Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew. They were fishing, throwing their nets into the lake. It was their regular work.
Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you.” I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” Mathew 4: 18 – 19 (The Message Translation)
There is something so amazing to me about the calling of Peter and Andrew. They were just doing their regular work — and Jesus came by.
“Vocation” is much like that. Coming from a Latin word (vocare), vocation is what we do with God’s call. It is the life we live that goes bigger and beyond ourselves — bigger and beyond what we were doing before Jesus came by.
What you “were” doing may have made a life for you. But what you “can” do after an encounter with Jesus and by yielding yourself to God can witness to new life bigger and beyond yourself.
What does that mean?
For me, it was 30 years ago when I was pulled, called to follow. Sure, I was already a believer for several years before that. I was a really good “believer.” And I was incredibly fortunate to have an adult in my life who took my young faith seriously. He challenged me to think, read, question, to listen to people as they asked the questions of faith, to look beyond….
One day as I was just doing what I did, nothing special, Jesus called.
“Don’t just believe me — follow me.”
I’ve never looked at what I did the same way again. Before I heard that voice, what I did was about how it made me feel, the gratification it brought me, and how it satisfied my needs. After hearing that voice, what I now do is not just about me, but about something so far beyond the smallness of my needs.
It is incredibly amazing to be used by God to “fish.” I don’t mean just getting people to join church. I mean using my life, which is really all I have — all the good, bad and ugly, all the insane comedy and madness of it — to share the power of the lifesaving, concrete gospel with people who are drowning.
I keep fresh in my mind what it felt like for me to be “drowning” — to be disconnected, feeling insignificant and empty.
I was a believer — and still drowning. It wasn’t until I committed myself to following…walking with Jesus through the crazy places that Jesus walks….that I found myself connected to something bigger and beyond myself. Jesus walks down some very interesting roads: never the places I would have chosen to walk myself. Jesus gets into battles and fights — conflicts I know that I could not face were I walking alone. And I have followed Jesus into some pretty good parties – celebrations I certainly would have missed on my own.
To get connected to this “bigger and beyond,” don’t think “I need to do something different.” In stead, think “I need to do what I am doing for a different reason.”
“I will make you a new kind of fisherman.”