Matthew 4:20, 22
And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.
And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.
Most often we seek to add things to our lives. We accumulate possessions. We gain new friendships and relationships. We desire new experiences and things to do. Less often we seek to remove things from our lives. Maybe we try to kick a bad habit or get rid of all the stuff we were so eager to gain. We’ll gladly say goodbye to struggles or difficult experiences, hurtful people and relationships, even things we just don’t care about anymore. But how often do we purposefully leave behind good things, things that we loved a lot, things that mattered to us greatly?
Jesus came to call some men to follow Him instead of continuing to go their own way. Peter and Andrew left their nets. James and John left their ship and even their father behind, and all just to follow Jesus. In leaving behind their nets, they were abandoning more than an occupation, for being fishermen was their identity. It was who they were. It was ingrained in them. Several times we see them go back to their boats and their fishing. But it could never be with the same passion they had pursued it with before. Now they were following Jesus, and that became their new identity, and surely they never regretted that choice, even after all they would endure for His cause.
What are we willing to leave behind for Jesus? Do we have hopes and dreams we are called to abandon in order to follow Jesus as He wants us to? Will we have to say goodbye to everything we’ve ever known? Can we leave our family behind in order to follow the Master? There are so many different things we can come to value in our lives that we cling to so desperately. Sometimes God asks us to set them aside, maybe even just temporarily, in order to lead us down a new path.
It is one thing to be willing, but then it is quite another to walk away. But when we take a step to follow the Lord when He’s asked us to come after Him, we’re not really leaving behind anything at all. We are simply walking toward a new life in His presence and in His will. In essence, it all just comes down to a simple choice. Will we value something more than we value Jesus? Will we choose to disobey His call? Perhaps Jesus has come by lately and asked us to follow. Will we set down our net, or will we hold fast to it as He walks away?