Perhaps you’ve tucked it into your parenting arsenal. When your child refuses to listen, isn’t eager to obey, or stomps in place…wisdom reminds us… Say your instruction, and walk
away. This is not abandonment. This is an invitation; an invitation to follow. Jesus extended this invitation in radical ways.
Our children have the choice to make: Stay and pout, or trust. The child either follows or not. A fisherman named Peter had to make a similar choice centuries ago. As he cast his net into the sea, he hears 11 words that change the world: “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Like a parent who kindly turns and calmly leads his loved one, Jesus continues slowly down the shore, turning every few steps to wave Peter and his brother toward him. Peter looks away and stares at his hand holding the end of the fishing net. His fingers are dark brown from long days in the scorching sun. Hooks and teeth from fighting fish have left their mark in his palms. He grips the net tighter now…should he leave all he knows behind? Does he trade routine for insecurity, reason for faith, and career for a calling? The net must remain on shore if he is to go. His legs are still as he squeezes his net even tighter. Peter is usually quick in making decisions. Not today.
Sand is kicked in the air as Andrew has made up his mind. He hurries toward the teacher, knowing obedience is learned by obeying. As Peter stands alone, he looks to the sea, to his boat, to all he has ever known. It's what makes him safe and comfortable. But even this familiar place will turn into a frightening training ground of faith. Months later he will battle storms, be dared to walk on water, and jump overboard into the sea when no one else will.
I suppose abandonment does come into play. Yet we are not abandoned by the one leading...we abandon ourselves. We must. To accompany Him, we deny ourselves. We trade our identity for His. On that beach, Peter crawls out
of his skin and leaves it next to his net, which is slowly overtaken by the
tide. He hurries to the One he is giving it up for. It will not be the last time the teacher asks Peter to follow.
After three years of devotion, Peter denies knowing his friend when he sees him arrested. Not surprisingly, the Bible says Peter now followed Jesus, "at a distance." Fear can do that. Then he hears those words a second time: "Follow me." Do they sound different from the way they did 1000 days ago on the shore? Is his nervousness replaced with horror? After all, this time his risen Lord is asking Peter to follow him where no man wants to go. Can Jesus still be trusted to lead?
Jesus never stops asking us to follow. He'll keep walking and keep on leading, certainly stopping along the way to allow us to rest, cry, or dance. He doesn’t move ahead just to leave us alone where we are. He walks away to take us someplace new. Not to improve ourselves, but to make us more like Him.
Parents, we take a risk when we lead our children. There's a chance they
won't follow. Peter decided following Jesus was worth dropping his net and
leaving his boat behind. It is a risk still worth taking today. Our Lord
is worth following. The question for our children is…are we?