What causes people to suddenly change and follow Jesus? Peter told Mark he did it “immediately.”
16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. (Mark 1:16-18)
Just like that? Drop your nets and walk off to follow Jesus? No doubt there was a lot leading up to that sudden decision. Perhaps he and Andy had had long discussions out in the boat. Maybe something had happened at home to make him ready. We don’t know. But, Jesus said, before anyone can make that jump, God “draws him” (John 6:44). And how He draws you is personal. He uses the things that we specifically need. God gradually loosens our desperate grip on the illusory things we think keep us safe or satisfied. As He does, He attracts us to Himself through Jesus.
Sometimes, as in my case, kicking and screaming. Little by little, God got my attention and blew on the kindled flames of my restlessness. I “just so happened” to hear an old lady speaking about the Lord’s Prayer. My brother had “found Jesus” and began to annoy me by talking about Him all the time. People picked me up hitchhiking and told me about their experiences with Him. I spent a long day on a beach with “The Road Less Traveled” and a bunch of beer. Little by little, God was loosening me up. But then He brought out the big guns, the things I needed personally.
When you run the sound for a large event you have to listen. This gig was a 10 day conference for a few thousand people who worked for Campus Crusade. The guy who kicked things off every morning spoke about trusting Jesus – something everyone already understood, except me. He was very logical in his approach – something I really needed. Every day I came armed with new reasons to doubt what he was saying. And, as though he was reading my mind, he addressed those objections and convincingly dismissed them. My soul began singing that old funk tune, “Standin’ on Shaky Ground…”
Alone in the arena, I was struggling to fix a sound cable – struggling because I did not have large, channel lock pliers, needed to take the connector apart. I looked all over for something that would work without success. But inside, an argument was raging over what I would decide about what I had been hearing. In frustration, on my knees, I began to weep. I called out, “God, I don’t even know if you exist but, if You do, then I’m scared. I don’t know if You will take care of me…” I know, I know, that was a dumb prayer. Embarrassing to write it down. But, when I dried my eyes, the first thing I saw, about 2 feet in front of me, lying on a road case, was a large pair of channel lock pliers with bright orange grips. You couldn’t miss them. I can’t explain how they got there or why I hadn’t seen them. But I was careful to put them back!
But later that night, on my drive back home, I “immediately” decided to follow Jesus. Immediately, after 38 years of being drawn by God and pushing Him away. Maybe you are not as stubborn and slow as I was. You probably won’t need pliers. But do pay attention when God tugs on your sleeve. Pay attention, take time to ponder and then, follow Jesus – immediately.