Following Jesus

The Risk of Leaving What You Know

I’m a “play it safe” girl who married a “take a risk” guy. We brought three “I’ll decide based on how I’m feeling” children into the world. Our house is a whirlwind of emotions when it comes to decisions. Whether it’s a move in a board game or picking out a new color for the living room walls, we all have our different approaches for how to decide what happens next.

As much as I like to take paths that have already been proven (by me), I recognize that I will only get different results in life if I venture off the road of least resistance and pave the way into a place I haven’t gone before.

I end up with the same feelings of dissatisfaction when I hit my pillow at the end of the day if I don’t change what I’m doing during the daylight hours.

My relationships spiral into an unhealthy merry-go-round of “hurt people hurt people” if I don’t open up and let someone help untangle the mess.

Everyone around me seems like they’ve won the lottery on a good life while I’ve been saddled with struggles too heavy to carry if I don’t learn to access a strength bigger than my own.

You know what I notice about Jesus? He didn’t come sit down on the shoreline to watch the fisherman go about their daily work. Instead, He walked past them as he called over His shoulder, “Come, follow Me.”

We have this habit of inviting Jesus into our world without comprehending that the whole reason He entered our world in the first place was to lead us back to His. The plan was never to camp out and watch us do the things we’ve always done. It was always to lead us into something that was previously unattainable.

Jesus is both safe and dangerous. His love is refuge. His truth is an anchor. His peace is the light guiding us home. At the same time, He leads us into unchartered waters. He asks us to abandon all we thought we knew in order to experience how life actually should be lived and find joy we didn’t think was possible.

Following Jesus often feels like a risk. People might try to tell you it shouldn’t feel like that. “He never changes. His love is unfailing. While everyone around you will let you down, Jesus never will,” they say. And they’re right but sometimes they also forget what it feels like to drop the nets you tied with your own hands, step out of the boat that’s more familiar than any other place on the planet, and walk away from the people who seem like they know you best. All to follow a man who claims to pave roads through obstacles that everyone else has written off as impossible.

Sometimes there is an element of excitement that goes along with the risk. For instance, moving to a new city to start a church from scratch or merging with an existing church community to discover how much more we can do for the kingdom of God together. More often than not, no one will understand how big of a risk you are taking but you and God. It won’t be flashy like getting up in front of a crowd to speak, it will be quiet and overlooked like choosing to lay down your agenda and serve someone who’s deeply hurt you.

When Jesus’ future disciples dropped their nets to the ground, no one probably noticed. There was no earthquake to announce the decision, no band playing in the background to set the atmosphere for those long steps from the life they knew into the one they were about to discover.  The sound of those nets hitting the earth only reverberated inside of them.

They were probably the only one’s who knew what it meant when those nets crumpled at their feet, how much it cost, how much risk they were feeling. As their hearts beat out of their chest, they stepped off the path of least resistance and into unchartered territory.

May we be brave enough to do the same thing. As Jesus calls us to follow Him out of our world of pain, selfishness, pride, anger, or fear, may we be those who take the risk and drop our nets.