It’s a new day. Lord, I love how the rhythm of life is constantly symbolic of the gospel. Just as the good news of Christ means a fresh start for all who come to him, a new day feels like a fresh start as well. Yesterday’s disappointments, which felt so earth-shattering at the time, have already begun to fade. The rest from last night (thank you for that, by the way) has brought with it a new perspective, and hope is arising once again. Thank you for the word “new.” Thank you for a chance to walk with you, by grace, and to experience your presence in new ways—through your word, and through your world.
I thought about taking a bigger chunk today, but after reading through Mark 3:13-21, I wanted to just focus in again on one thing in this little section before moving on. So read through those nine verses a few times, circling and noting and even repeating some of the phrases aloud to let the weight of them sink in.
He “called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him.” Well, that pretty much encapsulates my experience with Christ. Of course, he called for a while—years, in fact—before I “came to him” for real. But there is something so captivating about God’s call. How does he do it?
In my life, it is often through circumstances that are unmistakeably “God.” For example, I remember when I was around twenty, and I was cast in a show at a theater. I was in the midst of my “searching years,” not entirely persuaded that following Christ was really the most necessary way of life. I was looking forward to being away from my usual boundaries of accountability, particularly people who would remind me that I was a Christian. I was actually looking forward to going wild a bit, acting on some of my curiosities about how people who did not have the conscience of Christ lived.
Then I met the other members of my cast, most of whom would have been perfectly willing to help me sow some wild oats. Among my cast mates was a music minister from a church near the apartment I had just moved in to (a few blocks away, in fact.) Frustrated, I remember thinking, you’re just not going to let me get away with this, are you? That music minister became a good friend, and I began attending his church, where I met other sinners like myself who were stumbling toward the light. While these relationships didn’t totally curb my curiosities for the wild and dangerous, they served as constant reminders that, even when my own heart is prone to wandering and leaving the God I love, God can come after me—even in the theater—through other people who love him and don’t even realize how their appearance on my path served to “set the Lord always before me.”
Of course, that’s not really what this passage is mainly about. It’s just what came to my mind as a reflected on that one verse this morning. Jesus called, and they came. Simple as that.
But there are two other things about this passage that are impressing me right now.
First, many are called and come, but even among those, Jesus has specific plans for some that are different from others. When Jesus called to him “those whom he desired,” and “they came to him,” from those who were with him as disciples, he appointed twelve so that they might go with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons.
I wonder what the other disciples—the non-Twelve—thought of that? Of course, anyone can pray for healing and for deliverance. But this passage seems to emphasize that, even among the many who are called, some have specific ministry callings—in this case, some of the many disciples (twelve, to be exact), were also called to be apostles (see verse 14). Clearly, Jesus singled some out for a specific role, in a specific time. And that doesn’t dishonor those who aren’t called in such a way. We all have our gifts, and they’re not the same as the next guy’s.
That’s one thing I take from this passage.
But the other thing I am impressed by as I read and re-read these verses is who Jesus singled out for this specific, apostolic calling. Namely, a hodgepodge of misfits comprised of fishermen, tax collectors, and others who were clearly not considered fit for religious leadership by their peers (otherwise they would already be serving under a rabbi of their own.) These men who thought they would retire from a lifelong career of mending nets and cleaning fish and banging on doors to collect taxes for Herod or whomever was king at the time suddenly found themselves traveling with an itinerant minister who was, in fact, the Son of God. Soon, they would find that they themselves would be ministering just like him—healing the sick, driving out demons, and proclaiming the gospel of hope and newness of life to all who would listen, sometimes even risking their own lives to do so.
So the thing I am continuing to think about as I head in to my own work day is that God might have a different plan for me. I am not mending nets, I’m managing social media. I’m not collecting taxes, I’m organizing meetings. I’m not building tents, I’m writing articles and learning lines. And all of the work I do is good—work that God has given me to serve as a means of support and contribution to the world around me.
But at any point in time, God might say, “OK, new plan. Set that down and come with me.” God might say, “you thought the agenda for today was what is on your Google calendar. But I have something else in mind.” And if Jesus calls me to him in a specific way today, will I be like the disciples, who “came to him,” ready for anything?
When Jesus seems to be calling to you to him—to pray, to read scripture, to meditate, to reflect—do you go to him? Ask God for ears to hear and a heart to respond with obedience.
Do you see some people’s calling and resent the fact that yours seems to be different? Ask God for a heart of humility, to accept with gladness his unique and specific calling for you.
Are you ready to set aside your life plan if Jesus calls you in a new direction? Ask God for a heart to obey and the joy of knowing you’re walking with him, whether the path leads to a mountain top—or to a cross.