They just left it all.
Fishy-smelling, sweaty, exhausted fishermen followed a rabbi. Just walked off and followed him wherever he might lead them. Without hesitation. Why?
They saw Jesus do a miracle. These expert fishermen had worked all night for nothing, and now that they were washing their nets — not just pulling in, but finished with every single chore, and now finally washing their nets so that they could go home… And at this moment, Jesus tells them to go back in the water, throw their clean nets into the deeper water where they didn’t even fish, and they did it. Apparently, these guys believed in Jesus. This random rabbi they’d been hearing about who could do miracles. They had their own stories, but they were willing to trust in this miracle man. And when they went out, not only did their nets get messy, but they began to break from the weight of the fish filling them.
Jesus had just filled their nets with a miraculous, overflowing catch of fish, which is their main source of money. But they weren’t impressed with the financial benefits of serving Jesus. He told them to leave it all and follow them. They left the catch and followed him.
I want to go wholeheartedly after Jesus like this. I want to put my life entirely in his hands without fear. Why am I so afraid? He has shown himself faithful to me a thousand different ways. But, just as I’m about to take that leap of faith, there’s a flashback in my soul.
Suddenly, as I’m finally in my happy comfort and trust in God, all the abuse I endured as a child rises from the dark and secret place where it has been hiding. It slinks up behind me, taps me on the shoulder, and says, “You were helpless. He watched it happen. He let that little child get emotionally scarred. Did that really need to happen?” And I pull away from my savior, just for a moment to gain some perspective. I creep back against the rock wall near the precipice where I had been about to take a [foolish?] leap.
What was I thinking? “Nobody else around me expects me to leap. I can live as a Christian just as I am. Nobody expects that level of investment from me.” But deep down, the call never stops. Its music hums within me, promising that if I could break free of my doubts and of my fears, I could do wonders.
It’s like the crescendo at the moment before the hero turns back into the castle to face the dragon’s fire. And I want to listen and follow. So badly. But that abuse lingers there. It calls me back from the ledge and tells me not to trust His voice.
Where am I now? Living in a tight little space, seeking to avoid bumping into anyone else. Getting offended at every foot that squashes my toe. But it’s not their fault. I should have taken that leap by now. I should be in a large, open space flying free. But I’m not. And so every offense I experience is my own fault.
Lord, let me run back toward the dragon and rescue that little girl. Let me promise her that even when she is being used like a filthy rag, she is of limitless worth. Let me remind her that she’s been wounded, but by her scars, she can bring godly healing to those who can only understand the stripes that Christ endured when they see them present in my own life.
Yet, even after that decision has been made, I hesitate for another instant. Can I keep clinging to the cliff for a minute more, Lord? I really want to. I have a good excuse. I was beaten. I was molested. I was exposed to pornography. And then, when it looked like it was finally over, a drug in a drink once again exposed me to abuse from a father figure in my teens. Why? Why me? What was so wrong with me that I deserved to go through that? Is it because you wanted to give me the payment for my future sins in advance? Would I have deserved it if I had lived without the abuse up front? Do I need the suffering I endured to make me stronger? That’s a crock. No one needs this kind of daily battle. No one should be in this turmoil.
He won’t give me an answer that satisfies. Nothing could really explain that level of injustice away. But he shows me something that reminds me that this question isn’t the point. I’m not the only one who is enduring pain. I’m not the only woman with secret scars. And there’s no time for these questions. There’s a whole world out there crying out with the same questions, and I can provide them with some help. No, maybe not answers. No. But I can bring them hope.
God reminds me that I’m a living billboard promising that there is life after abuse. And honestly, it’s true. I’ve got a long lasting marriage! Beautiful kids! Grandchildren! Joy! Friends! I smile all the time. And when I don’t smile on the outside, there’s a constant hum of joy in my soul. In spite of my pain, I am happy. Really, really happy.
I approach the precipice this time without the same trepidation. I see the faces of the women I could help save in the unknown spaces below me. In the outlines of the clouds that separate me from the ground, I see rays of sunshine peeking through. All this time, I’ve been lifted above the world below, seated in heavenly places. I have been sheltered from a world of suffering, and I’ve been complaining about stubbed toes. I didn’t realize the privilege that was given to me. I’m so thankful.
Everyone on the ledge with me is blind to it. They’re in the same mindset that I was in. Each one is certain that they have a great excuse for not taking the leap. That no one should be forced to make such a choice. They’re just like I was just a minute ago. I feel for them, but I can’t stay to explain. The urge to leap is overwhelming every other thought. I need to go, now!
And I’m suddenly ready and willing again. I hear the voice of my pain approaching and I reply, “Thank you for those words. This time, they only remind me that there’s no time to waste.” And without a second thought, I leap.