I was anticipating this weekend for many weeks. Venturing down to a place that is so unlike anywhere I had ever been, I was filled with eagerness and excitement. Arriving at our campsite in the sand flats of Moab, I was filled with awe as the night sky was clear enough to see the cloudiness of the Milky Way. We spent the weekend visiting Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, rappelling down 95 and 110-foot cliffs, and exploring the slot canyons found in Little Wild Horse Canyon. I would describe myself as an avid adventure seeker. I’m always looking for opportunities to explore and experience new things…and this escapade down to southeastern Utah brought a lot of joy to my adventurous soul. However, I can get so caught up in pursuing emprises such as this that I forget to see the bigger picture. Following the Lord is the greatest adventure that I could ever hope for, wherever that may lead me.
I imagine that on the day Jesus approached Andrew and Peter, they had no idea that life as they knew it was about to change. I bet as Jesus called out, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men,” both of them were clueless to what this decision to follow Jesus would entail. An adventure beyond their wildest dreams began the moment these two fishermen dropped their fishing nets to go after Jesus. But it didn’t stop there.
Some time later, the disciples were travelling in a boat to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Already en route to the opposite side, Jesus made his way to the boat by striding across the water. Peter and the disciples were alarmed with the scene unfolding before them. Upon approaching the boat, Jesus said to Peter, “Come.” At that moment, Peter had a choice. To reside in the safety of the boat, or to respond to the call to follow Jesus out in the water. He chose to follow Jesus again in that moment and until his death when he was crucified upside down in the name of Jesus.
Jesus’ invitation to follow Him isn’t just a one time offer. It's presented to us even after we have responded, and that’s what makes this magnificent adventure so enticing. The invitation doesn’t change, but where it takes you does.
And isn’t that what adventure is about? Going to the unknown, enduring the uncomfortable, and facing fears to see or do something out of the ordinary. In a worldly sense, it may not always be worth the challenge. But with God, the adventure He beckons us on is always worth the toil. We have a God who knows our innermost being; our hearts, deepest desires, and unuttered longings. Who then is better to orchestrate our own personal journey? The Lord has a sense of adventure, and its something He invites His children to partake in.
If it were not have been for my response to release my fishing net three years ago and to step out of the boat seven months ago, I would not be writing this. I wouldn’t have navigated the slot canyons, sat suspended 90 feet in the air with just a harness and rope, or gazed at the night sky as shooting stars faded in and out of view. I wouldn’t be in SLC. Saying yes to hopping out of the boat opened up a door of longings and desires being fulfilled that I didn’t even know I had! But my decision to remove myself from the boat isn’t the only one I’ll have to make in my life. In fact, Jesus is presenting another invitation to follow Him that would lead me thousands of miles away from SLC. Do I remain in the comfort and shelter of the boat, or do I take a chance to endure the wind and unfamiliar?
At 22 years old, my journey is far from over. And yours isn’t done either, no matter your age or predicament. So, where does this put you? Do you have to answer the initial invitation and drop your fishing net? Or respond to the continuing invitation to step out of the boat? I’d encourage you to let go of your fishing net or climb out the boat in whatever way that is for you personally. Because following the Lord is the greatest adventure that you could ever hope for, wherever that may lead you.
While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. |Matthew 4:18-20|
And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. |Matthew 14: 25-29|
SLF Class of 17-18
We’ve just pulled off the interstate. Two streets away and my heart is pounding. Five days of welled-up anxiety from the cross country road trip mingled with my fear of feeling unwelcome and unknown by the family I would spend the next 10 months living with. We rounded the corner leading to my new home and put the car in park. I let out a deep breath, looked at my dad, and opened the car door. Would I get along with their kids? Would their living style be far different than my own? Would they resent me for joining family meals and other activities? Would I like the food they made for dinner? All of these questions swirled in my mind as I closed the passenger door and moved to the trunk where all of my belongings waited to be moved in. Then I hear a door open. Two, young girls come running out the door with huge smiles on their face. In the doorway is the friendliest, most welcoming face I have ever seen. We greeted each other with handshakes and conversation ensued. I felt at ease in their presence and a familiar sense of home rushed in.
Almost two months later and I’m convinced I am living among some of the most amazing people I will ever meet. I’m not even quite sure what I was even worried about in the first place!
They have taken me in as a sixth child to their five and treated me with respect and lovingkindness. As I’ve gotten to know each of them more deeply, I see crazy cool similarities between us that I can only credit to God. With commonalities ranging from family origins to household routines, I feel right at home.
At New Song the past few weeks we have been discussing our core values as a church. Today we talked about the importance of initiating grace. Our Pastor lead us through Mark 5 and Jesus’ encounter with the demon possessed man, noting the aspects of the account that might have inhibited us from showing true grace in our own personal hard situations. The main points taken from Mark 5 were that sometimes grace goes where we don’t want to go, grace costs more that we want to pay, and that grace changes things we didn’t think could. He left us with the question of whether or not we were initiating grace after having received it ourselves. If we were sacrificing time, money, and preconceptions to extend a small amount of the grace that Jesus has given us.
My host family has gone above and beyond the expectations provided by our directors. Their hospitality is what has made this transition much easier and has allowed me to focus on developing relationships with my coworkers and the other fellows, knowing I can come home to a welcoming family. As I’ve gotten to know my host family, I’ve gotten to know what true grace looks like. They didn’t just take me in and wait for me to leave the comfort of my room to interact with them. Instead, they invited me into the most intimate parts of their family routine. I have the privilege of joining them for dinner every night if I’m home and participating in tea and devotion time after dinner. Meal times are precious family times. And reading scripture and sharing prayers aloud is inviting me in to see their vulnerabilities and also what they hold most dear. This is the truest example of initiating grace I have ever experienced.
Through this experience of living with a host family and doing life with them so far, I have seen the greatest display of compassion and the totality of God’s faithfulness rendered in our obedience. Thank you, Jesus, for the gift of loving, listening, pure community.
SLF Class of 17-18
Salt Lake Fellows Collaborative