Jesus was just walking along beside the sea and spoke to the fishermen. ‘Come follow me,’ he said. Immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.
I have been thinking about that word immediately.
Immediately … straight away, right now, directly, promptly, forthwith, this instant, without delay or further ado.
I have a dog. She is a very sweet miniature schnauzer. She loves me … or at least I read it as love. She will follow me around the house, she welcomes me home with immense enthusiasm and she enjoys going out for walks. But she also likes to bark at the cats that come into the garden, terrorise the squirrels and pick fights with the local fox. When she is behaving it is easy to say that she is an obedient dog, but when her mind is set on the cat with the jingly bell that saunters past the French doors there is nothing that will stop her craziness. She will not hear me telling her to be quiet and she doesn’t respond to my wisdom that she won’t catch the pesky animal if I let her out. I may be her favourite person, but her mind is consumed with what is outside that window. Her obedience is not immediate at all.
Yet when I look at the fishermen and their response I feel challenged. I often think that I can be like my dog when it comes to obedience. If I can see the good in it for me, can be bribed by treat or it is something that I enjoy, immediacy isn’t an issue. But what happens when I am distracted by something else and have my heart and mind set on that thing, obedience is much harder. I tend to put up a fight and generally not be all that pleasant.
So what made these guys different? These fishermen gave an immediate response. They had witnessed, heard and had hope in this man Jesus. What did they see and hear that made them want to give up everything so easily?
The truth is, I have seen and heard the same things … and I have in fact heard even greater news that Jesus died and rose from the dead. Yet I can still be like my dog, loving my master with a passion but scratching at the glass trying to chase a cat. My perspective is usually on myself and not on the greater one.
Jesus doesn’t talk to us as if we are dogs. He doesn’t train us to obey. We were created to have free will and to choose. There is always a choice to obey.
I don’t know if it just me, but I suspect that it isn’t, when I hear GOD and obey immediately, things seem to work out better. There is less mess, less anxiety, less repentance, less issues … immediate response to Jesus’ voice is always a good thing, even if it means leaving things behind. For the fishermen it was evident that it was the physical things; their boat and father. For us it might be all manner of things. It could be that we need to leave behind past hurts, relationships and ideals, our pride, self-sufficiency etc… but the truth is, they are worth dropping immediately because following Jesus has so much more worth than any of it.
Will you take up the challenge to put aside the cat outside and respond to GOD with immediacy?