Sunday, November 17, 2013

Following Jesus

When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. Mark 1:19-20

So what did the sons of Zebedee give up when they followed Jesus? What did they leave behind? I have been involved in great discussions on that topic ever since I first started studying the Bible in High School.  Many a sermon has been preached on the subject. What did the disciples leave behind to follow Jesus? What should we leave behind to follow Jesus? What do I need to leave behind? Does it mean sell all our possessions? If that is true, American Christians are in a lot of trouble!
I am 57 years old and I still don’t have the answer to this question. I will probably ponder it for the rest of my years. However the last four months have given me new insights. In July when I quit my job of 11 plus years, a job I really enjoyed, to “follow him” into a new job as a mission co-worker in Guatemala, I found myself giving up a lot more than I had realized. We own our home so selling everything was not necessary. (Our home in Spokane will serve as our base when we are in the states on itineration.) Yes, we did give up a very lucrative income but our basic needs are still covered. I’m discovering that our possessions are just not as important to God as they are to us – whether we have them or not. It’s what’s inside of us that is important. What I had given up was not material in nature. What I gave up was knowing how to do a job well, that feeling of knowing that people depend on me and they will not be disappointed, a feeling of being known and of being independent and most of all the feeling of being of useful. I have given up my familiar world where I felt I was in control. It has been very difficult.
Now I find myself in a foreign land and unable to understand others and incapable of expressing myself adequately. Nothing is familiar.  How humbling! All the things I used to be able to do well, I cannot yet do here. I do not seem very useful. I am certainly not in control! I can now better imagine what the disciples must have been going through when they followed Jesus leaving behind everything they knew and trying to learn an entirely new way of thinking and doing. In numerous entries in my journal from previous trips in Guatemala I have asked the question “Why is it so much easier to trust God down here than it is at home in the states?” Now I realize, it is because here I know I have to truly rely on Him for all my daily needs as well as my future. While this is all very difficult and frustrating at times, it is also very freeing. I know God is in control. Don’t worry about what you leave behind, just follow and trust. Está bien.

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