John 1:35-50 (ESV)
35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter). 43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Isaiah 6:1-8 (ESV)
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
Following God through Jesus is not easy. It doesn’t seem sane to drop everything and follow. To change what is going on in our lives and turn around to follow. To have a plan set out before us and to see it changed is difficult. Even if that path seems hard and lonely and filled with disappointment it can still be hard to turn to go the other direction. The familiar can be so much more comforting than what we do not know.
The stories of calling we read today take men who were heading one direction but have an encounter that sends them in another. They were living their normal life, going about their normal things. They are grieving the loss of a friend, following a dynamic teacher, and working their jobs. Normal life interrupted.
A clear thing for us, especially in the example of Nathanael and Isaiah, is that the encounter is one of undoing. Isaiah is made fully aware of his sin and Nathanael moves from someone unsure of Christ province to proclaiming that Jesus is the Son of God and King of Israel. All of them are going to leave the life they were living and journey in a new direction. The undoing is not easy.
There are times when I think about my old self, the one who didn’t know Jesus, who knew of God but did not know God and I miss him. I liked him a lot. He got things done the way I liked them done. He had fun the way I liked to have fun. He thought I was a pretty great guy who should be respected and followed. But the reality is he was a jerk, selfish, lonely, and hopeless. Praise the Lord that I had an encounter with the One who could undo me. Destroy me and rebuild me.
Following God through Jesus is not easy. It cost us our plans, our built up identity, our desires. It cost us our lives. But it gives us, as John will later testify, a life abundant; a life of worship to the True Loving Father God.
Father, it is hard to thank you and praise you for your undoing. Our comfort is so special to us. Even when it is uncomfortable, the familiar outweighs to hope of transformation that is found in your Son Jesus. Why we long for our own unchanging plans when we can worship the Unchanging Lover of our lives? Spirit, teach us to long for God’s undoing. Teach us to desire community that will not let us sit in our comfort but will remind us of our call to follow and go. Jesus, you are our life and path. You are the one who overcomes and rebuilds. We praise you for your conquering. Amen
Take time to praise God for His undoing. List out those areas of your life that you have seen God transform and pay attention to the things that you once thought defined who you were. Those things that you thought or think made you who you are. See how God has renewed them for His glory, replaced them with the fruit of the Spirit, or removed them completely from your life because of their ability to cause you to stumble. God is faithful in His undoing. He will not leave us there, but will rebuild us into who we are created to be. Praise Him for that today.