Matthew 4:18-22 – 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. (NIV)
Have you ever wondered if this was actually the first time that Jesus had met the disciples, or if it is just the way the text is written that makes it seem like that? Just maybe Jesus had met the men he invited to join him many previous times. Perhaps he had developed a relationship with them over time. Perhaps he had asked them before about the possibility of joining him, and they had said, "We'll think about it."
While I was thinking about such things, my reflection was interrupted by a loud raucous noise outside. When I looked out the window, I saw that the source of the noise was a large flock of blackbirds and grackles flying amongst the treetops in the yard, as they were gathering to migrate.
It occurred to me that, as far as we know, these birds weren't thinking to themselves, "The days are getting shorter, the weather colder. I'd better head south!" No, they were responding to a deeper prompting, a prompting we name "instinct" or "nature", a prompting they follow to their winter homes.
Perhaps, too, the disciples in the reading from Matthew were responding to Jesus in a much deeper way. Rather than responding based on how many times they had met him or talked with him, or how well they thought they knew him, perhaps they were responding to a deeper prompting of the Holy Spirit — a prompting that we name "call" — a call by Jesus to follow wherever He may lead, a calling that ultimately leads not to a winter, but to an eternal home, a home we name "heaven".
It seems to me that all of us have that inner prompting of the Spirit, that at times we may not even be aware of. Many times we may name it "chance", "fate", or "luck". Many times we may see our decisions as guided by need, or what the situation dictates, and it's only when we pause to look back, that we see the hand of God leading us to where we are — the hand of God leading us home.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, as those men who became Your first disciples responded to Your call, may we too, as present-day disciples, follow You wherever You may lead. To this end, make us attentive to the inner prodding of Your Spirit. Enable us to see clearly, among the many choices that we encounter, those that You wish us to choose. May our faith never waver in the knowledge that, be it through that "still small voice", or large life-changing events, or small everyday circumstances, You have been and will continue to be with us, leading us homeward to our heavenly Father. Amen.