Summary: Matthew and Abram were both called to abandon the status quo of their lives to follow God’s call. Where is God calling you? Are you willing to leave it all?
Date: Sunday, June 9, 2002
Author: Rev. Jonathan K. Twitchell
I’m really not a big fan of moving… It’s really not a lot of fun! I’m sure that some of you happen to be under the misguided delusion that I simply can’t wait to put all of my possessions into boxes and trucks and drive them 8 miles down the road to inhabit 6 Susan Rd. Not that there’s anything wrong with 6 Susan Rd. In fact, I’m looking forward to living at 6 Susan Rd. It’s just the moving part that I’m not really looking forward to. Not that I’m complaining, mind you…but all of us have been through moves, and know the difficulties and hard work which accompany a move.
Perhaps I don’t like moving because it seems like we’ve moved a lot in our short five years of marriage. Five years ago, after our honeymoon, we moved many of our belongings to New England Frontier Camp in Lovell, Maine for the summer to serve in the kitchen and on administrative staff. At the end of the summer, we moved all of our belongings into Young Apartments on the campus of Eastern Nazarene College, to finish up our degree programs. A year and a half later, we packed all those belongings up and moved to Topsham, ME to serve at the Brunswick Church of the Nazarene. Two and a half years after that, we packed once again to move to South Portland, in order to follow God’s call to serve here in Cape Elizabeth. And now, only one year and one month later, we begin packing up once again, to move to 6 Susan Rd. I think there are boxes we didn’t even open since the last move! I’d like to think that I have moving down to a science, and that God would stop asking me to practice the skill for a good long time!
The problem with moving, is that you have to pack everything up, while you continue to live your life. It’s hard to cook when your kitchen is in boxes. It’s hard to sleep with the knowledge that the slightest earthquake could topple towers of boxes and belongings with a crash. It’s even hard to get dressed in the morning, wondering where that favorite outfit is. Moving forces the organization of our lives to change, and it disrupts the normal patterns and routines of our lives. We tend to be creatures of habit, and enjoy the daily rituals and patterns that define our existence. Moving disrupts all of that, forcing the reorganization of our lives, ending old rituals and beginning new ones. Perhaps that is why many of us resist moving.
And then, just when I’m tempted to get discouraged, I hear a scripture text like our Gospel lesson today. Imagine Matthew sitting at his tax collecting booth, doing his work, and making money. Without any introduction, a stranger walks up to him and says, “Follow Me.” Jesus doesn’t tell Matthew His name, where He’s going, or what life will be like when they get there. He simply says, “Follow Me” and Matthew simply gets up…and follows. He doesn’t ask questions or go talk to his best friend about it, he just responds to the call, and does what Jesus asks of him.
Imagine such a drastic change in your life. Imagine leaving behind all that you own, all that you love, and all that you hold dear to follow someone you’ve never met, going where you’ve never been, and doing what you’ve never done. This move in Matthew’s life meant a great restructuring and reorganizing of his life. No longer consumed with making money at the tax booth, there would be days ahead when Matthew wouldn’t have a place to sleep, or food to eat. Instead of robbing from others as tax collectors were prone to do, Matthew’s very being would soon be focused on meeting the needs of others, instead of his own. Indeed, following God’s call meant a complete reorganization of his life, around new values and guiding principles.
Matthew was not the only one recorded in Scripture who was given a call from God simply to follow where He leads. Hear these words from Genesis chapter 12:
1 The Lord had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.
2 "I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you."
4 So Abram left, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.