I’m standing on the beach, surrounded by fishing nets and rotting jellyfish. My hands are cramping from three days of morning-to-night net mending, untangling the wet mess of ropes, and yanking gloppy jellyfish from the web. I’m happy to be working with my husband and sons, but I’m ready for a rescue. I’m ready for Jesus to come strolling along our Alaskan beach like he did on the shores of Galilee, calling out the simple deliverance to those fishermen, “Come, follow me!” (Matthew 4:19).
Jesus called those fishermen away from their nets to a higher pursuit, to “go and be catchers of men.” Of course they said yes! Who wouldn’t trade in dirty fish for soul-saving work?
The Great Divide
While I’m onboard to jump ship and drop the nets, I’m also troubled with Jesus’ call. Christ’s words seem to imply a world divided between the flesh and the spirit—the sacred and the secular. This was amplified in Jesus’ final earthly charge to believers: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
I remember pondering this idea years ago, immersed in another kind of dirty work: changing diapers, hauling baskets of molding laundry, scraping dried food under the high chair. If Jesus called the fishermen-disciples away from their mundane labor and toward a higher calling, what about the rest of us? Aren’t we all laboring in daily sludge? Surely Jesus is calling us to more! Surely we are doing lesser work than those in “full-time Christian service” who are living extraordinary, make-a-difference lives!
I hear this struggle from many around me. A middle-aged friend who teaches health at a Christian high school confides in me one night that she’s not doing enough for God. She thinks she’s being called to resign, move to Mexico, and start a ministry for abused women. A neighbor making dinner for her large family hears the evening news, sees the refugees, and feels like she is wasting her life on floor polish and toilet bowl cleaner. Another friend who homeschools her four children questions this “calling,” wondering if God is asking her to serve abroad somewhere.