I’m struck in the gospels at the way Jesus calls out many of those who follow Him. Jesus certainly had plenty of people pursue Him, most of them for their own selfish reasons. Others approach Him with questions and a sincere desire to learn from Him. However, the gospels contain a number of accounts of Jesus pursuing and engaging people. Peter, James, and John. Matthew. The woman at the well. Zacchaeus, to name a few.
What is striking is that Jesus most often encounters people, like the above, in the midst of the routine busyness of their lives. The stories are fascinating in my opinion. The gospels speak of Peter, James and John, dropping their nets and following Jesus. The picture is one of Jesus coming to them in the middle of a work day and their immediate response to Jesus’ call. They drop the nets and go. Mark speaks of Matthew, “sitting at the tax office” when Jesus approaches Him and commands him to follow. The woman at the well is collecting water for the day. They’re not necessarily looking for Him (though Peter, James and John have met Jesus and spent at least some time with Him at this point). They are not at a point in their life where they’ve sort of “made space” for Jesus. And there are no baby steps being offered by Jesus to them.
Jesus shows up and confronts them in the midst of their preoccupied lives with a new direction for their lives. A completely new direction. A call that, if properly understood, is really inconvenient and disruptive. It’s the kind of call that’s really going to mess their lives all up.
When I was a couple years old, my father, at that time a successful trial lawyer, heard God call Him to give it all up and go be a missionary. Why would a successful lawyer just quit and go make nothing as a missionary in another country? This is certainly not an isolated story. There are many like it. Jesus has always been doing this kind of thing.
Two things really seem worthy of our consideration here. One, Jesus doesn’t come to us when we are necessarily looking for Him. He shows up in the midst of our busyness and routine. He shows up in the middle of life happening. If we are really honest there really isn’t a convenient time for Jesus to show up and tell us what He wants us to do. Because life is busy and full of much responsibility, much to do. And yet Jesus knows exactly what’s going on in our lives when He starts to call on us.
Two, Jesus intends to disrupt your life. He intends to mess up your plans. He intends to make you ask, “Are you crazy?” He knows exactly what he is doing when he tells successful bankers to quit and start an orphanage in Central America. When he tells doctors to quit their practice and take his family to the Middle East to serve the Muslim people. When he tells athletes to become pastors. When he tells businessmen to liquidate their assets and establish a ministry to feed the hungry in the Sudan. That’s going to mess life as we know it up. Exactly.
And praise God He is gracious enough to call us to do it. Go ask Matthew one day in heaven whether he wishes he had stayed in that tax collector booth the day Jesus walked into town.
Don’t be surprised when he shows up at your doorstep. Don’t expect to ready for Him. You’ll probably be busy working or studying. Life might just be starting to work itself out in your favor. And don’t expect what he asks to be convenient or to fit into what you’ve already got going. It’s going to throw a wrench in things. And a glorious wrench it will prove to be if you have the courage to say yes.