As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him,"I will follow you wherever you go."
Jesus answered him,"Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head."
And to another he said, "Follow me."
But he replied, "Lord, let me go first and bury my father."
But he answered him, "Let the dead bury their dead.
But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God."
And another said, "I will follow you, Lord,but first let me say farewell to my family at home."
To him Jesus said, "No one who sets a hand to the plowand looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God."
- Luke 9:57-62
“Follow me.” This is the invitation Jesus offers. Not, “Believe in me.” Not, “Be my friend.”
“Follow me.” It is the invitation to discipleship. It is an invitation that calls us outside of ourselves, outside of our comfort zones, outside of the boat and onto the water amid the wind and the waves.
It is an invitation to the unknown and the uncertain. It is an invitation without the promise of worldly success or prosperity. It is an invitation that sometimes mean doing the insensible thing, the unexpected thing, even the irrational thing.
This passage hit me between the eyes today.
In only two weeks I’ll be leaving my safe, well paying, stable job of thirteen years. I’m leaving it to follow the call and leading of Christ. In just two weeks I will temporarily leave my family behind in Florida to start a new job as Director of Adult Faith Formation at a great parish in Indiana. They’ll follow me once we’ve closed on the sale of our home and the purchase of a new one in the Hoosier State. But for at least a few weeks I’ll essentially following in the footsteps of Jesus with no place to lay my head. I’’ have to rely on the kindness of a family at our new parish to give me a place to stay. I’ll be leaving behind my wife, kids, friends, and comforts. It’s a little scary, but it’s exciting. As a family we are so excited and looking forward to all that God has in store for us in this next chapter of our lives. Still, sometimes I feel a little like Indiana Jones in this scene:
Jesus calls all of us to leave all behind for him. He’s the pearl of great price, the treasure in a field waiting for us to sell all we have so we can possess him. And yet, it’s really he who possesses us. It is the Lord who calls us to radical abandonment, to complete and unwavering trust in his goodness. That call comes in different ways to each of us, but make no mistake it comes to all. For some it’s a career change or a move, for others it’s greater involvement in a ministry, still others it may be a call to repent and rebuild relationships, or maybe for others it’s speaking up when everything in you wants to remain silent. Whatever the form, the call will always be costly, but it will always be worth it in the end. Missionary martyr Jim Elliot famously said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep for that which he cannot lose.”
If we ultimately want to see the reality of God breaking through and into our lives we must take the leap of faith. Someone I greatly respected once said that faith is spelled R-I-S-K, and that in the end we must be willing to see ourselves “change in God’s pocket to be spent as he sees fit.” I believe the Church isn’t seeing the miraculous on a regular basis because so many are content to be “believers” and have either not heard, ignored, or are too afraid to follow the call to be disciples, to follow Jesus.
I’m reminded of the song “Called Me Higher” by All Sons and Daughters. We can be safe and content, but that’s not what God is calling us to. In the words of Pope Benedict, “The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” Dare to be great. Dare to trust Jesus with everything. Drop your nets. Leave your boats. Listen to him, “Follow me.”