Parents want the best for their kids, so when I told my dad that I was planning on going into the ministry he showed concern. Going into the ministry, like much of the Christian Journey, is an act of faith. First, it takes a sense of call, but mostly it takes trust in God. Trust that God will provide. So when I made the choice to pursue this I really was not thinking much about the future, just really discerning where I was at that point in my life.
It was a hard discernment process. I was half way through a degree in elementary education with almost enough credits to declare a minor in science. But for some reason the church work kept calling me back. As some of you have heard, the “ah-ha” moment for me was in a class on Hinduism and Buddhism. But that was only part, as I found myself unable to be like most college student and forget about church. In fact, soon after starting college I began to volunteer at the Westminster Presbyterian Church on the corner of the campus. That position led me to my first ministry position as a youth pastor (I had been a missionary prior to college).
Looking back, I know that I knew what I was going to do for the rest of my life early on, but it took the coalescing understanding of my spirituality and life assessment that happened in that class which made me unable to avoid my calling. The funniest part for me was the fact that I was not even supposed to be in the class. I thought I was picking the freshman World Religions survey class, and instead fell into this junior level seminar.
I always chalk that up to the mysterious ways in which God works. I laugh sometimes when I think how my life forever changed through the study of another religion! But that is the essence of call.
When Jesus came upon Peter and Andrew, they were out doing their jobs. As fisherman, their livelihood and identity were tied to their work. Most likely from a very young age they were taught the craft, and most likely they never seriously entertained doing something different, let alone dropping their tools and walking away from that life to follow Christ.
But they did. Now scholars, theologians and others speculate a lot about what happened there, but it is unmistakable that the two of them, and eventually the whole crew found their way to let go and follow, eventually directing them to lead, and for most to give up their human lives.
The choice that the disciples made was to follow, but they were human and at times their humanity took control. Look to Peter’s relationship with Christ, but in the end they would always come back and ask for God to help them make things right. Even Judas did that!
Like everything in life, the call is something that comes to you, but you have to make a choice whether or not to follow it. This week’s sermon is about call, but it might as well be about listening, trusting, and responding, because while the call is divine and sacred, what we do with it marks how the rest of our life flows.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen