Summary: The disciples responded immediately to Jesus’ invitation. They left everything to follow. And heaven was their final destination.
“How to Respond When Jesus Calls”
Jesus was walking along the shore of the lake. I’m told it was much like Walker Lake, near Hawthorne, Nevada, where I once pastured. Kind of a treeless lake in the desert. But I imagine it could have been something like the north shore of Lake Siskiyou, where I often walk on my lunch break. The air is clean and fresh. The sky is clear and blue. People are fishing or picnicking or playing near the lake. You can hear their happy laughter faintly in the background. The wind is gently whispering in the trees, the waves lapping at the shore. And in this peaceful place comes Jesus. I see him with a smile on His face and interested in each person He meets. But then He sees the ones He has come for. And this is what happens:
“Jesus called out to them, "Come, be my disciples, and I will show you how to fish for people! " And they left their nets at once and went with him. A little farther up the shore Jesus saw Zebedee’s sons, James and John, in a boat mending their nets. He called them, too, and immediately they left their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men and went with him.” Mark 1:17-20 (NLT)
Have you ever had an encounter with Jesus? Has Jesus ever sought you out? Have you ever received a personal invitation from Jesus? I wish we had the time for each one of you to share your experience, but many of you have had a fantastic, maybe even a miraculous experience of God calling you. All of us, every single one of us have received a call from God to join Him; to follow Him; to become one of His family. Some may not realize it yet. Some may be hesitating to respond. But the invitation is there. The call is there. The desire for you to come is there. God has plans for your life. He said,
“For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jer 29:11 (NLT)
As long as we resist – we are missing out on the best in life. As long as we ignore the call – we are missing our purpose in life. As long as we ignore the voice of God – we are cheating ourselves out of blessings. But when we respond correctly – it opens the door to God’s power. It opens the door to His blessing. It opens the door to an adventure that makes life exciting and abundant and full.
So how are we to respond when God comes walking into our life and invites us to join Him? Let me suggest a few things.
First of all, the disciples responded immediately. When God calls you – don’t postpone the decision to respond. They dropped their tools; they stopped what they were doing and turned to Jesus and began to follow. Paul wrote:
“... God is ready to help you right now. Today is the day of salvation.” 2 Cor 6:2 (NLT)
I believe God is obligated by His holiness and His righteousness to give every person ever born an invitation to salvation. His nature demands it. But the unfortunate truth is that most people hear that call; that invitation; but never respond. Some say they will take care of it later. Some think they will live life their way while they are young and then repent and change their life when they get old. The problem is that salvation is not on our terms. We may receive that invitation to follow only once in our lives, so when we do- we better drop what we are doing and immediately respond.
I remember when I clearly heard God’s invitation to follow Him and I am so grateful that I fell to my knees and knelt beside my sofa and responded immediately and positively to that call. Some of you responded when an alter call was given at camp or in a revival or during a regular church service. It doesn’t matter where or how – but it does matter that you heard and responded immediately. Samuel, when only a boy, heard God calling him and responded by saying, “... "Speak, for your servant is listening." (1 Sam 3:10).
Isaiah heard God speak to him. He said,
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8)
That needs to be our response when God invites us to come along with Him on this adventure of life. “Here am I! Send me!” or “Here I am! Wait for me! I’m coming! I’m coming!”