What moves me most is that Jesus finishes this last gospel book with the same words He began the first one with: “Follow me.”
In Matthew 4, Jesus sees Peter and Andrew fishing off the coast of Galilee, and says to them, “Follow me.” Immediately, leaving everything behind, they follow. More are called to follow, and soon, there are 12 men who spend the next three years doing everything Jesus tells them to do. Sometimes well, and sometimes not so well. But they are followers, not fans, listening to and obeying the teachings and directions of their Lord.
Then comes John 21.
Peter and the others are fishing. Heartbroken, they don’t know what else to do, so they return to the one thing they know they do well, fish for fish. Into the boats they go, but they catch nothing. No fish for them that night. Until the man on the shore says to them to throw their nets on the other side of the boat. So they do because they’ve learned over the last several years how to follow authority and this guy seems to know what He’s talking about.
153 fish. But only because this stranger redirected their efforts. Success because of obedience. 153. One last hurrah of fishing.
And then the revelation, It is the Lord! And the hurried swimming to shore and an intimate meal of fish and bread.
As the chapter ends, Jesus, after restoring Peter to fellowship and responsibility, reminds Him that the message has stayed the same — Follow Me.
The circumstances have changed since that day by the Sea of Galilee, but the call hasn’t.
Do not live discouraged . . . You Follow Me.
Do not go back to your old job . . . You Follow Me.
Do not wonder what I will call others to do . . . You Follow Me.
Brother Lawrence in The Practice of the Presence of God says,
“Make a clear decision to stay consciously in God’s presence. You must from this very moment, make a holy and firm resolution never to be willfully separated from Him, and to live the rest of your days in His sacred presence.”
This is “commitment without condition regardless of whether God makes it a happy experience or not.”
Commitment without condition, regardless of the experience.
We follow at the beginning of our journey of faith, we continue to follow in the muddled, mundane, middle days, and we finish the journey following still even as our bodies break down and hearts grow weary.
This is the clear decision to follow, “to stay consciously in God’s presence . . . and to make a holy and firm resolution never to be willfully separated from Him.”
The message stays the same.
Make a holy and firm resolution.
Follow today, follow tomorrow, resolve to follow all your days.