2019 Advent Devo: Calling

When were you called to follow Jesus? For me, the call to be a disciple has always been in my life, in one form or another. I can remember growing up with a deep appreciation for who God is and understood from an early age that at some point in my life, I would have to decide to obey God, follow Jesus, and commit myself to being a life-long disciple. Though these truths were always present in my life, there were times when I found it hard to sense a clear call from the Lord.

For much of my life, I longed for the type of “calling” that Jesus’ disciples received in Luke chapter 5. The story of their calling is a simple one. Some fisherman have been out all night trying to catch fish but have failed miserably. They are washing off their nets and packing up when Jesus comes by, asking if he can borrow a boat to use as a makeshift stage so that he can speak to the crowd of people that have been following him. He borrows a boat from Simon Peter and speaks to the crowd. As he finishes, his attention turns to Simon Peter. “You haven’t had any luck on the lake tonight, why don’t you try one more time and put your nets back in the water?” Jesus says. Peter, no doubt tired from his fruitless work, decides he has nothing to lose and goes along with Jesus’ request. For those of us who already know who Jesus is in this story, it comes as no surprise that the fishermen’s nets are now bursting with fish. Upon seeing the empty nets Simon Peter is convicted by his lack of faith and understands that he is in the presence of the Lord. It is from these unbelievable and miraculous events that Jesus offers his invitation to Simon, James and John. “Be my disciples and I will show you how to fish for men,” He says. How could anyone in that situation say no to Jesus!

It is only natural for us to want to be called by Jesus in the same way, to have a miracle performed before our very eyes that validates our decision to put Jesus first and give him complete reign over our lives. The interesting thing is that the book of Luke continues to show us again and again the miraculous work of Jesus. Immediately following this miracle with the fish, we see Jesus perform two more miracles and as the gospel of Luke continues, so do Jesus miracles. Luke seems to be telling us that following Jesus requires a continued observation of the things that he can, and will, do.

While Jesus initially called the disciples with a show of his power, we know that their ongoing faith and obedience required many different experiences with Jesus. We also know even in spite of everything they saw, they still struggled to follow and obey Jesus, especially Simon Peter! Our own lives may reflect the overall story of Jesus found in Luke more than any one miraculous event. Most of us would identify as being called to follow Jesus through a lifetime of experiences, not just one single event. It is easy to long for a big moment, or a personally deep call from Jesus to be his disciple, but often times our call comes in the ways we experience Jesus’ love and power over and over in the smaller moments of life. When God became man, he gave himself to these smaller moments of life, not becoming flesh to make a big show and gain worldwide attention, but to permeate the simple actions of humanity, over and over and over again. For me, the call to be a disciple was in the continual love and guidance I received from my parents, the many stories told to me about God by the special people in my life, and the “small” experiences I have shared with Jesus over the years.

This Advent season as we reflect on the life of Jesus, we can remember that following Jesus isn’t just about the big ways we have heard him call us, but it is about the smaller moments of life. We see in the life of Jesus’ closest friends, that following him is about an ongoing relationship of faith, sprinkled with special moments until our lives are full of moments of Jesus’ call. As we reflect all of Jesus’ stories told in the gospel of Luke, may we long for more stories of Jesus in our own lives, giving thanks that the truth about our incarnate King means that he is with us in the big things and the small things, forever.

You are loved!
Jon Cooke