As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were 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.
Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. (Matthew 4:18-22, NIV)
Imagine this. You're in a minivan, or a sedan. You've just dropped the kids at soccer or the YMCA, or maybe you've just left work. You pull up to one of those long traffic lights, and you look to your left - and see a familiar face.
Now most of the time, you've seen this face in paintings, or drawings. The long hair, the graceful, radiant face. This is the face of Jesus. Emmanuel. God with us.
Jesus. Savior of the world. Right there, next to you, at the light.
On a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
Not a huge one, but a Harley, nonetheless. With those big ol' mufflers that don't really muffle much sound. He's wearing those black leathers, and his hair in a ponytail. Worn, callused hands on the handlebars. The saddlebags are mostly empty, because Jesus doesn't carry much with him.
The fenders and the leathers are dusty - he's been on the road a while. But you feel the call...you know you have to speak. So you roll down your window, and before you can say anything, he smiles at you, motions to the empty seat behind him, and says, "Come follow me...come with me for the ride of your life. The ride of a lifetime..."
That's the theme of my friend Jeff Jacobsen's book, So I Go Now: Following After the Jesus of Our Day. Jeff describes how time and time again, the Rider appears, and motions to him to park the minivan, turn off the cell phone, ditch the job and the church work and the Boy Scouts and reruns of "Friends" and Monday night football - all of it - and just RIDE with him. How marvelous the ride has been, when he's been willing to do it...and how much he's regretted each time he's let the chance slip away.
Now imagine pulling the minivan (the sedan, SUV, you name it) over at the corner - say at 95th & Metcalf in my former home in Overland Park, KS, or at 75th and Cicero in Chicago. Imagine shutting off the key, leaving the van there in the parking lot of the Home Depot, getting on the back of the Harley, and riding away.
THAT is what the Gospel writers are talking about when Jesus said, "Come follow me," and they left "immediately." Or "at once." Leave your fish, your nets, your father...your van, your responsibilities, your commitments. "Follow me."
It brings me to tears to think of the number of times I've watched that Harley ride off - the seat behind my Savior empty, and me sitting at the light, cars honking, with a heart full of "Yeah, but's..." I'll follow you - as soon as I lose a hundred pounds (fat men NEVER look good on Harleys, no matter how cool it might be). As soon as I get my finances in order (gotta take care of business first). As soon as the family is settled (they're my number one priority, now - who will take care of them if I don't?). Yeah, yeah, yeah, Jesus....soon. Just not right now.
God, help me to see where God-as-I-understand-God is in my life today - and give me the strength and the willingness to just shut up, say, "Yes," get on the motorcycle, and ride, whatever that will mean today. Amen.