I’m an idealist. If it’s corny or cheesy, chances are I love it. Actually, I can’t remember approaching my life with any other perspective. I was born that way. And instead of mellowing out, it seems as if my desire for picture-perfect, storybook narratives and endings has only intensified over time. I want the right circumstances, the right feel, the right angle and especially the right ending. This approach through which I view the world around me has placed in me a God-given drive for excellence, achievement and accomplishment. I want to take what is and make it into what it was supposed to be all along. It’s a desire that leads to victory, freedom and restoration. I believe this desire, which is placed in all of us, is an earnest desire to see the kingdom of God manifest in our lives; taking a broken world, healing it to wholeness and returning it to glory.
You see, if you’re anything like me, the right set of circumstances is key to any excellent endeavor. I want the right setting. I want just the right variables, and I want the perfect platform for success. I want to know that what I’m being called into will turn out the way that I see it in my head: romantic, magnificent and glorious. Unfortunately, this very desire, God-given but at times flesh-ridden, has sometimes prevented me from obeying Jesus’ call to follow him where He wants to go and when.
‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him. – Matthew 4:19-20
If you’ve spent any length of time in the Church, you’ve likely heard these verses used and repeated often. It’s not that I want to pull a novel meaning out of this scripture that you’ve never heard before, but I’d like to remind us of this; the only appropriate response to Jesus’ call is immediate response. Scripture says the disciples dropped everything, even that which was crucial to sustaining their lives, in order to follow Jesus to where He was going. Immediately and completely, no questions asked (literally).
What does this mean for you and me? It means Jesus isn’t calling us to follow Him when it seems adventurous, romantic or ideal. Often I find that Kingdom beginnings are quite opposite. They’re lackluster, meager and mundane. But whatever your circumstance may be, His call remains. It’s like climbing onto an old, rusty bus, whose destination is mysteriously unknown but gloriously enticing. It’s imperfect at best and frightening at worst. But it’s here, on that run-down bus that we find the great irony of our desire; our deepest heart-cry is that Jesus would be glorified and exalted in all the earth. You see, it’s been his mission to take what is and make it into what it was supposed to be all along. Where He’s taking us is exactly the place we’ve longed to go. When we drop everything, obey completely and enter into circumstances that are overwhelmingly imperfect, Jesus leads the way straight through mountains and impossible obstacles. In the end He gets glorified, we find ourselves in the midst of the great story for which we yearn to give our lives and His Kingdom is established on the earth, just as it is in Heaven. It’s the immediacy of our response to the invitation to get on His ol’ rusty bus that creates a place and space for God’s power to be perfected in His imperfect people.