Over a century ago, an iconic image was created by a magazine illustrator named James Montgomery Flagg. The recruiting poster, made for the U.S. Army, showed Uncle Sam pointing his finger over the caption – “I want you for the U.S. Army.” Thousands of young men responded to the call and became part of the war effort. Their patriotism cannot be questioned but the cause to which they gave themselves is now seen as a costly war, waged in folly, accomplishing little. The so-called “War To End All Wars,” set the stage for the bloodiest war of the 20th century just three decades later.
To what are you giving your life, my friend? Whose call is guiding you?
Some are building wealth, called by the voice of riches to accumulate more. Some are chasing the ephemeral whispers of pleasure, looking for the next best experience. Some are responding to the call of pride, endlessly seeking recognition and applause. There are hundreds of voices competing for our attention, each one, in its own way, offering to provide meaning and purpose to life for us.
But, there is only One Voice that can actually give us both abundant life now and lead us to eternal life. Jesus is calling you and me.
Matthew takes us to the rocky shores of a lake. Jesus is assembling the 12 who would be trusted to take the Message to the world. “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.” (Matthew 4:18-22, NIV) These men, who lived simple lives, providing a staple of the diet to the region, were offered an opportunity to bring others to know the living God.
Their response compels my attention. “At once they left their nets!” There were no contracts, no exit clauses, no clarifying and extended discussion – just the compelling Call from Jesus. What did they know of Him? Why would they abandon everything they knew to follow Jesus? We cannot know, but they did and the rest, as we say, is history. This Man that they had come to know called and they answered, “Yes!”
He is still calling, inviting men and women to become His disciples, making His work the priority of life, the defining reason for their existence. What will your answer be?
I answered His call twice, once as a child to be His disciple, again as a young adult to enter vocational ministry. A little girl asked me on Sunday, “Pastor Jerry, how long have you been a pastor?” I heard my own voice answer her and for some reason saying it out loud was a bit shocking. “Honey, I have been doing this work for 45 years.” Yes, a lifetime given to the One who called me a long time ago during a time of prayer in a tiny church, to Whom I said an unqualified “yes,” that night and to Whom I have been saying “yes” each day since; and there are no regrets. Perhaps I could have accumulated wealth, gained fame, or found greater pleasures if I listened to those other invitations. But, this Call has allowed me to find life, hope, and love.
Will you say, “yes” to Jesus, my friend? That does not mean vocational ministry for all but it does mean making Him Lord of all. He desires to save us, to lead us out of hopelessness of that life dedicated to Self. He wants to restore us to our Father, give us the high and holy purpose of representing Him in the world in which we live, and then to be welcomed Home for eternity when the race is done. What’s your answer?
Here is the word from the Word. May the Spirit use it to speak to your heart, to call you into the service of the Eternal King. “Peter said, “We have left our homes and followed you.” “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you, everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, will be repaid many times over in this life, as well as receiving eternal life in the world to come.”” (Luke 18:28-30, NLT)
Nobody stood and applauded them
So they knew from the start
This road would not lead to fame
All they really knew for sure
Was Jesus had called to them
He said come follow me
And they came
With reckless abandon they came
Empty nets lying there
At the water’s edge
Told a story that few could believe
And none could explain
How some crazy fishermen
Agreed to go where Jesus led
With no thought
For what they would gain
For Jesus had called them by name
And they answered
We will abandon it all
For the sake of the call
No other reason at all
But the sake of the call
Wholly devoted to live and to die
For the sake of the call
Drawn like rivers
Are drawn to the sea
There’s no turning back
For the water cannot help but flow
Once we hear the Savior’s call
We’ll follow wherever He leads
Because of the love He has shown
Because He has called us to go
We will answer
Not for the sake of a creed or a cause
Not for a dream or a promise
Simply because it is Jesus who calls
And if we believe we’ll obey
Steven Curtis Chapman © 1990 Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Songs (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.)
CCLI License # 810055