18 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. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him. 21 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, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
Matthew 4:18-22 NIV
When I was in the middle of third grade, my dad changed jobs. We were living in Pennsylvania and his job was now in New York. My parents wanted us to finish out the school year in Pennsylvania. For about six months, my dad would work in New York during the week and drive home to Pennsylvania for the weekends. It was a challenge but we all got through it. Dad would call home a lot to talk with us and keep up with all of us.
One day, I got to the phone first. When I answered I heard a male voice say, “Jennifer! Hello!” I immediately responded with, “Daddy! I miss you. How are you?” And I began to chatter away about things I wanted to share with my dad. After about a minute, I stopped to catch my breath and listened to the other person say, “Jennifer, um, this isn’t your dad. This is your Uncle Bob.” I was mortified that I had confused my dad with his younger brother. I was so eager to talk to my dad that I plunged headlong into a conversation without even listening to who was speaking to me. I remember passing the phone off to my mom and running upstairs in horror at my mistake.
Years later, I still remember the embarrassment of not checking who I was talking to. My 8-year-old self thought this was the most horrible thing I could do - to answer a call and guess the caller incorrectly. If only we had caller ID back in the 1970s!
As much as I was embarrassed at the time, I realize now that younger me was much more brave. I was willing to jump right into a conversation without the hesitancy that creeps in with maturity and adulthood.
When we are called, how eagerly do we answer? Do we respond with a willing heart? Or do we tiptoe around the call? Maybe we make excuses that we are not ready or that it’s not the right time to talk. Perhaps we know the reason we are being called, but we just don’t want to respond. Maybe we want to say no, but we realize that that’s not the right answer, so we avoid the call at all costs.
Not responding when we are called doesn’t always work so well. Consider Jonah. In the second verse of the first chapter of Jonah, God tells Jonah to “get up and go.” And in the third verse it says, “But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord.” Wow. Jonah didn’t even answer God but just ran away. It’s almost like a young child putting his fingers in his ears and saying “I’m not listening!” when mom or dad say to clean up or go to bed.
Jonah’s reluctance doesn’t come without cost. Sitting in the belly of a big fish is probably a timeout technique no one ever wants to endure. But he learns that God’s call is not a mere suggestion. When God calls us, there is a power to action that inspires us. Even if we are filled with trembling at the call, God’s call is designed for who we are. He knows us and our talents and our capabilities. He knows that a “yes” response is well within us and He makes us brave enough to respond.
This Sunday, we will explore how we respond to God’s call. Are you a Jonah, running as far as you can from God? Or are you like James and John, throwing down your nets and going immediately? Or maybe you are not even clear if it is God who is calling to you. May our time of worship be filled with hope and bravery as we talk about truly hearing God whether He whispers our names or He shouts it from the mountain tops.
See you in church!