As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. Mk 1: 16-18
Labor Day was a difficult day for my family. We needed some quiet time to walk through the woods, to listen to the sounds of birds and to be with each other. The slow walk through the meadow and woodlands of Afton eventually led us to the shores of the St. Croix River.
Taking off their shoes, my wife, Peg, and daughter, Britta, waded in the water. The setting sun cast long shadows on the shore, but still sent enough warmth to comfort us. It was peaceful, but in the background of our thoughts – pressing but never spoken – was the question, where are we going from here?
I looked at their shoes sitting on the shore and thought of Simon and Andrew. They, too, were wading in the water when Jesus met them by the lakeshore. However, Simon and Andrew were not relaxing but working. I doubt they were thinking about what tomorrow would bring. Pulling heavy nets in and out of the water required muscle, not thought.
Still, in the middle of all that was ordinary a stranger approached and said, “Come, follow me.”
We don’t know what they were thinking when Jesus called to them. All we know is Simon and Andrew dropped what they were doing and followed.
The invitation was to fish for people. But I’m confident the most transformational experience for Simon and Andrew was what happened within themselves. They would see new lands, meet new people, and witness miracles. Their lives would swing between inexpressible joy and total sadness and back again. Through it all they would discover new meaning to life. One that moved them beyond a limited view of the immediate day and cast their eyes deep into heaven and the presence of God with and within them.
I look at this picture. I remember the difficulty of the day and pray. Not just for my own family, but for all who are wounded or lost. Take off your shoes, wade in the water and listen to the still voice of God say, “Come, follow me.”
Many will hear that invitation and think of it as a call to mission and service. A call to work. But I think of it as a call to peace. To follow Jesus is to look deep into heaven and see the presence of God with and within us. It is an invitation to set aside the burdens that beat up our bodies and minds and to follow a new way. A way where peace flows through the soul like cool water soothing bare feet on a warm summer afternoon. This kind of peace makes even the most difficult day a blessing. And, this day was a blessing for all of us.