As I began a study through the book of Mark, these words dug deep “…follow Me,” Jesus said. (Mark 1:17) Jesus was speaking to two fishermen – Simon and his brother, Andrew. He had asked them to open their fingers and drop their nets. Drop the familiar. Drop their livelihood. Drop all they were dependent on. Follow Him.
It sounds so simple, doesn’t it?
“Come, follow Me, ” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” Mark 1:17
It sounds so simple until I use my imagination to put myself on that shoreline, with nets in my hand, standing next to my brother and my Dad. This is our livelihood – fishing. This is what we do. It’s what we’ve always done. Fishing is how we feed our family.
Wait, leave fishing? Leave? My brother and I should leave dad here to fish alone and care for the family? Follow you, Jesus, with the promise that you will teach us to fish for men?
Isn’t that how most people would respond? At least think it, right?
Once I ponder the Scripture more deeply, I am amazed to realize Simon and Andrew agreed with Jesus. They took Him at His word. They dropped their nets and they followed Him.
It wasn’t just that they needed to drop their nets so that they could leave the shoreline and their fishing career behind in order to follow Jesus. Their hands had to be free. I feel sure these budding disciples had no idea Jesus would ask them to trade nets for a cross. Yet, eventually, He did.
Later in Mark, Jesus dug deeper with His requirements, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Mark 8:34) Same truth – drop what you hold onto for security – deny yourself the choices of your will – fill your hands with a cross – and then follow Me – Jesus.
This was a command not only for His twelve disciples, but for all who would desire to follow after Jesus. It’s for me!
It was January and for some reason only God knows, my husband and I needed to fly all the way from Atlanta to Colorado Springs to hear a devotional about letting go of what we hold in our hands. Even before we arrived at the conference I knew that I would be dropping something very dear to me. The only reason I could see myself opening my hands and let the calling slip to the ground was because Jesus was directing me to let go and follow Him.
If it wasn’t for the promise, I might not drop what I held in my hands.
Yes, Jesus had called me to those nets, and He taught me for two years more than I could have ever imagined. I was stretched and I developed muscles of perseverance and boldness I never knew I could achieve. And just as He called me into that place of training, Jesus was confirming it was time to let go of those nets and follow Him to the next place on our journey.
Looking back at Mark 1, the words of Jesus to the fishermen comforted me most because of His promise to them. They would let go of what they knew, and Jesus promised to take what they knew and teach them to do something different with those skills. It was His plan and all for the Glory of God. They would be stretched and develop muscles of perseverance in faith, but they could trust the promise of Jesus.
And so with the limited vision of standing at the beginning of something new, I am determined to let go and follow Jesus wherever He leads. I feel the security of remembering His past faithfulness. And yet, I am fully aware of the ambivalence of knowing not the path nor the destination of His leading.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
What I know for sure: All of my experiences of living – the beautiful and the ugly and all that lies in between – have been purposeful and will be useful on the next leg of my journey. Whatever Jesus calls me to do next, His promise is secure. However if I cling to anything more than I cling to Him, Jesus will remind me to drop what I hold – deny myself – take up my cross and follow Him.
- Are you standing at the edge of something new?
- Is Jesus asking you to drop something precious from your hands?
- Will you ask Him to remind you of His promise as you drop what’s in your hands?
- What will it take for you to deny yourself, take up a cross and follow Jesus?