From Ordinary to Extraordinary - Encouragement Café - March 21, 2018

From Ordinary to Extraordinary
By Beth Mabe Gianopulos

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

“After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.  “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.   “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”    At once they left their nets and followed him.” Mark 1:14-18 NIV

When I was a teenager, I read this passage in awe.  I could not comprehend why the disciples would just walk away from everything they knew to follow Jesus. 

Of course I understood that Jesus was the Son of God, but when I read the passage literally, it sounded like Jesus just walked up to Simon and Andrew and said, “Hi.  Nice to meet you.  I am the Savior of the World.  Follow me.” 

I couldn’t understand walking away from the life that I knew because I still thought that I was in control of my life.  I also thought that I was the best person to make decisions about my life – I wanted to hold onto my fierce independence. 

I was striving for things – I was preparing for a career, to have a family, and to live on my own.

As I type these words today, I am in my forties.  I’ve had the opportunity to “be in control of my life,” and I have realized that control is an illusion.  There is very little that I can control.  I have also had the opportunity to make millions of decisions over the years. 

Many of my decisions opened the door to pain and heartache, and self-reflection has revealed that I am not as equipped to make decisions about “my life” as I once believed I was.

Having lived through pain, remorse, and bad decisions, I think I finally understand Simon and Andrew’s enthusiasm when Jesus offered them an opportunity for a new kind of life.  I imagine that Andrew and Simon may have been like me – they were weary from trying to do it their own way. 

I wonder if they were also tired of placing their hope in the mundane and meaningless things we place our hope in.  Had they placed all of their self-worth in their work as fishermen, only to wake up one day and wonder, what is the point of life? 

Did they look at their past, present and future and wonder if their life had any meaning or purpose?  Did they place all of their hopes and dreams in relationships with family and friends only to be abandoned and disappointed? 

If they had, then Jesus’ invitation to live a different sort of life – a life with a clear purpose – must have rekindled a deep longing that had been latent deep in their soul. 

In the passage just before, Jesus says, ““The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”  Frederick Buechner said, “life is extraordinary, and the extraordinariness of it is what Jesus calls the Kingdom of God.”  In our desperate search for acceptance, success, and happiness, we often fail to see the extraordinariness of life. 

We may be living, but we are racing through life distracted, with little time to see, hear, and feel what is around us in each moment. 

When Simon and Andrew chose to follow Jesus, they chose to stop stumbling blindly through life, trying to find their own way on their own terms, and instead embraced the Kingdom of God by connecting to the extraordinary world that surrounded them.

Jesus, Thank You for calling us to live extraordinary lives.  Open our hearts, minds and souls to the extraordinary world around us.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

© 2018 by Beth Mabe Gianopulos.  All rights reserved.

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Originally published Wednesday, 21 March 2018.