Chris and I did something really crazy this week. Are you ready for this?? We went into Slumberland to continue looking for new chairs for my office. And we walked out with….wait for it….a dining room table! You weren’t expecting that little twist in this story, were you? The thing is, we’ve been looking for a dining room table. We’ve not been actively looking, but it’s been a back-burner thing. The table in our dining area now is large enough to seat dust bunnies–and that’s about it. Plus, we’ve had it for more than 15 years or so. I think we probably got it at like Big Lots or something. It has more than served its purpose.
Anyway, we walked into Slumberland and as I was just about to call my search for office chairs as officially over (because, really, I found them about 2 weeks ago at Better Family Furniture), there it was. It was like one of those scenes in a movie when the main character finally finds whatever they’ve been looking for. A light shone down from heaven, the angels sang “ah.” Maybe it wasn’t like that. Maybe it was the clearance tag on the dining room set. We talked about it for all of about 10 minutes. Then we bought it. Just like that. This was a little crazy because we don’t work like this. We talk about major purchases, almost too much, research, then we enter into it with great hesitation, and very very slowly. It took us 2 years to plan our wedding.
The fact that we did this, of course, made me feel a bit out of whack. I immediately had buyers remorse, even though I really love our new table–it just was delivered on Friday. We didn’t think about this very long. We just *bam* went and bought a dining room table. There’s no going back now. I have no idea what insane purchase we’re going to make next without really thinking about it.
I really enjoy this story in today’s Gospel. I love a good call story. Many of you know, but just in case you didn’t, before I was called to be the Pastor to this amazing group of people here, I worked for Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque. I worked in Admissions and talked to people who were interested in going to seminary. I heard a lot of call stories. Stories of how God calls us all into service. It was one of the best parts of my job. I got to hear amazing tales of how the Holy Spirit works. And today we get a bit of a call story. We hear the call story of Peter, Andrew, James, and John. What is interesting is one little word in this story (that gets repeated twice): immediately.
Jesus called Peter and Andrew and immediately they left their nets and followed Jesus. Jesus called James and John and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed Jesus. When was the last time you made a life changing decision immediately? How often are we presented with even the smallest dilemma and we take days, weeks, maybe even years to decide if we want to do it. It’s even built into our society; you normally can’t leave your job right away. Usually 2 weeks notice is appreciated and required. Here’s what I wonder…and I’m going out on a limb here because the text doesn’t say this. But, what if, just if, the disciples (Peter, Andrew, James and John) were fishing while they were waiting for that “next” thing. The thing that was going to be bigger, better, and full of opportunity. And along came Jesus.
Friends, how different would our lives be if we lived in a state of anticipation instead of living in a state of hesitation? I’m going to let that question sink in just a bit. What if we lived in anticipation instead of in hesitation? There is this Jim Carrey movie from 2008 called “Yes Man.” It’s about Carl (played by Jim Carrey) who, after attending a seminar with incredibly happy people, has been challenged to say “yes” to everything in his life for an entire year. You could say that Carl was living in anticipation instead of hesitation. Here’s the thing, the idea sounds great, doesn’t it? Living in anticipation instead of hesitation sounds almost seductive.
Maybe you think it means you could leave all responsibility behind. You could live fully into whatever life you think God is calling you towards. Living in anticipation means no longer having a “let me think about it” mindset but instead saying “it’s about time, let’s do this” mindset. Do you want to know what I think? The idea scares the you know what out of me. And ultimately what it comes down to is control. If I live in a life of hesitation, I can control it. I can control my life. Now, I know how dumb that sounds. I know God controls my life, but I like to think that I do, so please let me continue thinking this.
If I live a life of hesitation, I can always fall back onto “now isn’t a good time” or “maybe later” or even my favorite excuse “let me talk this over with my spouse.” What do I have to fall back on if I life in anticipation. If I live my life in anticipation, that means I must fully trust God. Whoa. I don’t know if I can do that. I mean, if I give God total control of my life, that means I no longer have any say; I no longer can control what happens. If I give God control of my life, I must look my own shortcomings right in the eye. I must come face to face with my own sin. And brothers and sisters, my sin is ugly. I don’t have a scarlet letter I wear for all to see, but when I look in the mirror, it’s there. Every time I’ve failed, fallen short, screwed up, and tried to do life on my own, it’s written all over my face for me to see. I see a broken and bruised sinner who can only be healed by a cross-shaped band-aid.
We love control. We are taught that we should always be in charge; we have leaders for a reason. But as long as you’re living your life in hesitation, you’re keeping God (and everyone else for that matter) at an arm’s length. And I’m not advocating that you change your ways and turn around a full 180 tomorrow. But here’s the thing: think about the times when you’ve taken all the power in your life versus the times when you’ve given all the power to God. When did things turn out better for you? It’s okay to be careful, and it’s okay to be logical. But don’t hesitate so much that you miss Jesus calling you to something bigger, something better, maybe even something more life-giving. Drop your nets, let down your guard and say “okay Lord, let’s go.”