Off the Sidelines

By: Jim Lecky

Mark 1: 16-19

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 make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

I once wondered how these fishermen could just leave their lifetime occupations to follow Jesus. My philosophy was to say yes only if I was sure I could do it. I learned more about how this might have happened once my faith came alive after being baptized in the Holy Spirit.

In 1989 I attended the Northern Virginia Catholic Charismatic conference. The theme was evangelism — not my favorite topic. Eventually a speaker said we would pray, asking the Lord to empower us to become better evangelists. He invited everyone in the conference to say that prayer along with him.

I told the Lord I was sure he was not calling me. After all, I am quiet and shy. But I soon realized the Lord was calling me to share my faith in bolder ways. So, I stood up and prayed sincerely, but dreaded what would follow.

Within two weeks of saying that prayer, things began to happen. The leader of a Bible study I had started attending asked me to sit in for him while he was away. I had never led a Bible study before in my life.

During those same two weeks, I was part of an adult discussion group at my church. The pastor said he was really busy Sunday mornings and asked if I would lead the group. I had never led a Sunday school class in my life.

Same two weeks — I was attending a Thursday evening prayer group, and one of the group leaders asked me if I'd get up at the next meeting and share something about my faith. I had never stood up in front of other people and talked about my faith before in my life.

I did all of these things and they were certainly not what I had been dreading. The Lord got me off the sidelines and into the game. I have been busy ever since.

In 2010, I was listening to the hymn “Deep Water” at church. I suddenly knew that the Lord was telling me I had been spending too much time in shallow water and I needed to go deeper.

So I agreed, and things began to happen. A brother in the ecumenical community People of Praise asked me to do two things I had never done before: lead a weekly men’s gathering and occasionally lead a community meeting. I prayed about it and agreed. Surprisingly, neither was as hard as I’d thought.

The Lord has brought me to a place where I can just say yes and move whenever Jesus says, "Come, follow me."

TAKE THE CHALLENGE: How ready am I to accept the Lord’s call when I hear it? What am I doing to prepare myself?