There was a period of time (for most of middle and high school, in fact) when I had my mind set on becoming an optometrist. After all, I’d been going to one for as long as I could remember, and I was fascinated by the equipment in his office. To my delight, he offered me a part-time job my junior year, and I finally got to learn the behind-the-scenes workings of an optometrist’s office. I did clerical tasks, ordered prescription glasses and even got to help teach people how to put on their new contact lenses.
I also learned that the switch-flipping and knob-dialing that used to fascinate me so much from a patient’s perspective turned out to be very routine, and – quite frankly – rather boring to me. At a time when all of my friends were settling into academic majors, I walked away completely from the path that I had thought was a sure fit for me.
My decision to change paths doesn’t seem so shocking in this day and age, but back in Bible times, it wasn’t so easy. Depending on your socio-economic status and family connections, your career path was pretty much planned for you. If your dad was a carpenter, then you would follow in his steps. If he was a fisherman, then you’d be spending time on the lake learning the ropes. If you were from the tribe of priests, then you learned about working in the temple. There wasn’t much job-hopping, from what I understand. That is why I think the story of Jesus calling his first disciples is so interesting.
In Matthew 4:18-22, we read that Jesus identified two pair of brothers, who all happened to be fishermen. In fact, the second set were getting ready to fish with their father when Jesus called them. All four of the guys left their nets behind – two even walked away from their father and left him in the boat. They turned their backs on their livelihoods, the careers they had been trained to do all of their lives, and followed Jesus.
I don’t believe that God calls everyone to radical life changes; after all, your office or work site can be your personal mission field. However, I do think it’s important for us to come to terms with the “what if?” notion that he might call us to do something drastic in our lives. Does the very idea of leaving your familiar surroundings for the unknown of serving Jesus excite you or freak you out? Would you leave your boat like the guys mentioned above, or would you make excuses like the people in Luke 9:57-62? What would it take for God to call you out of your comfort zone and into his service?