In Matthew chapter 4, we read of the story where Jesus called his first disciples to exercise faith.
18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
When I was 14 years old, I went on a Missions trip with an organization called, “Teen Missions”. Before leaving the country, we spent two weeks in Merritt Island, Florida . . . in July. Our campsite was literally in the middle of the jungle. When looking up in the middle of the day, you could not see the sun because of the dark jungle canopy overhead.
One night, after everyone had already gone to bed, I had to use the bathroom. The problem was that “Lights Out” had already been called, and any use of a flashlight after that moment would grant me a “Special Blessing”, (punishment such as digging ditches or clearing land with a machete while the rest of your team had free time).
In the dark, I unzipped the tent and made my way out in complete utter darkness. By memory, I had to make my way to the narrow footpath feeling my way through the ferns for about 100 feet to the dirt road where I had hoped would be lit up by the night sky, but because it was overcast, there was no light whatsoever to illuminate the dirt road that led to the concrete building that housed the bathroom. I eventually made it there, and was very grateful that the lights were on in the building. While using the facility, someone called in asking if there was any one in there, I called out, “I’m here!” . . . but not hearing me, they turned the lights out and walked away! I called out again, “I’m here!”, but it was too late. Now I had to make my way back down the dirt road, enter the jungle blindly, and hope that I entered on the right path back to our campsite. Engulfed in complete utter darkness all around me, I felt my way, fern by fern, back to our campsite and eventually made my way to my tent. It was so dark, I could not see my had in front of my face.
The next day, our team met up with every other team under the “Big Top” tent, (the gathering place where a few thousand teenagers would meet each night for worship). It was then that I noticed a banner hanging over another team on the other side of the tent that read in big bold blue lettering, “Walk by faith, not by sight – 2 Corinthians 5:7”. Immediately, I knew that the Lord was speaking to me. I knew that he was teaching me to walk by faith, and not by sight, just as I had the night before in making my way through the jungle, and up the road to the bathhouse. That is a lesson I have carried with me for the last 32 years, one I will never forget.
Following the Lord to the unknown can be very scary. When Jesus was fast asleep in the boat, the disciples were full of fear (see Mark 4:35-41). Faith was nowhere to be found, and was the last thing on their mind. Note that Jesus was in the boat that they feared would capsize. We fear the unknown because we live in a world in which we can touch, taste, hear, smell and see. God calls us to live by faith. In other words, he says, “trust me, and not in what you can touch, taste, hear, smell and see”. That is an intimate relationship, and it is to that relationship that we are called. To participate in this relationship, we are called to exercise faith. We don’t know where he will take us, or where he will lead us. But we do know that he is trustworthy. He will “never leave you or forsake you” (see Deuteronomy 31:6). When Jesus first called his disciples, they immediately left their employment and family to follow him. This is the call he made to his disciples. It is the call that he makes to us today, “Follow me”.
You’ll find that the more you trust him, the less scary life is. Every day, he whispers the same thing, “Follow me”. Every time you respond with a “Yes”, it makes it that much easier the next time he calls to you. When times get tough, or perhaps you lose your job, bills remain unpaid, . . . or when the waves of the sea are about to capsize your boat, he is there for you. Remember, he will never call you to where he hasn’t already been. Ponder that for a moment. He says, “Follow me”, not, “You go on ahead, I’ll catch up, and if you need me, just give a holler”. Walk in confidence knowing that he is where you are now, and already is where he is calling you to.