“So they pulled their boats on shore, left everything and followed Him.” — Luke 5:11 (NIV)
The disciples had just witnessed Jesus’ mighty powers. They’d been out fishing all night and yet, within their own expertise and strength, these capable fishermen did not catch a single fish. Then they came face-to-face with the Lord, who with one command, delivered such a great catch that their seaworthy boats began to sink under the load. The disciples were astonished and in awe. Upon Jesus’ invitation they immediately left everything—their catch, possessions, careers and families—all to follow the Master fisherman.
Think back in your own history, when you first came face-to-face with Jesus and His awesome ways. When He beckoned to you “Follow Me,” did you let out a holler of jubilation and leap out of your sinking boat as fast as your wobbly legs could spring you?? Can you remember the excitement and peace that came over you when you first set your feet on the shores of His Kingdom?
Do you remember packing anything before you left the boat?
Many people spring out of their boats, eager and intent on following Christ. But when He says to us “Follow Me”, how many of us actually leave everything and follow? How many unwittingly hang on to material obsessions, ungodly relationships, crippling emotions, unsavory attitudes, incorrect perceptions of God, or personal habits that are less than glorifying to the Lord?
Probably everyone has fallen into the latter boat in one way or another. No one is made perfect upon salvation. We all carry luggage from distant shores that we must, over time, learn to let go.
I’ve seen in my own life that when I hold onto unholy things, they become chained anchors dragging in the sand. As I try to follow Jesus, they slow me down and hang me up on the rocks of life. The more I struggle to get loose, the more entangled I become in the chains. I’ll get discouraged and fearful. Then I’ll sit down to rest and feel sorry for myself because I can’t keep up with the Master. Once I stop following, even if only momentarily, the enemy quickly finds me and adds to my grief with his familiar scoffing:
“What kind of a Christian are you?
You can’t do anything right!
Who are you fooling?”
Then he gleefully piles more weighty burdens onto my already heavy load. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy (John 10:10.) But then again, I make myself easy prey when I bind myself with heavy and cumbersome burdens.
If only I’d left them behind!
The author of Hebrews wrote: “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus…” (Hebrew 12:1.) Jesus is our Pacesetter, and if you and I are desiring to keep up with Him, then we must take to heart the advise of the Hebrew author and lay aside those weights! So we begin by asking the Lord for strength to look deep inside ourselves and to take inventory of all the excess baggage that we are needlessly hauling about. If you’re like me, you’ll probably discover a few anchors to unload, a few chains to untie.
It is comforting to know that when I do find myself bogged-down and hog-tied in the middle of the big race, Jesus, our ever-caring Pacesetter, does not just leave me in the dust. No, instead He circles around to help out:
“May I untie that knot for you?
Perhaps I might carry that burden for you?
Dear, you look thirsty, how about a cool refreshing drink of living water?”
I know He is always there, eager to help. Eager to get me back on my feet and into the race.
The question is: Do I let Him?
He won’t push me out of the way to untie my knots—I have to surrender knotting-untying control to Him. He won’t take my burdens away by force—I have to loosen my sweaty grip and hand them over. He won’t quench my thirst—unless I seek after and believe in the renewing powers of His living waters.
Jesus encourages us… “Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30.)
Jesus gently beckons you and I to surrender all our burdens—our whole lives to Him.
Rather than spend all our energies kicking against the goads, it is best we let go. Sometimes letting go is very difficult and painful, but take heart, the Lord promises to be our strength and our comfort (Ps 28:7 & 2 Cor 1:4.) Take heart, for we are His workmanship (Eph 2:10.) And through our trials, He promises to make us perfect and complete (James 1:2-4.)
The Lord can and will change us!
Be “confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it…” (Philippians 1:6.)
My friend, leave everything in the caring hands of our loving Savior.