Change Your Life
When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. Luke 5:11
As a kid, growing up in church – my father is a pastor – we regularly celebrated stories of changed lives. It wasn’t uncommon to hear about someone who had lived a life of crime, only to find faith and go on to live a transformed life. It was always a compelling tale and made me a little jealous. I’ve believed as long as I can remember. Somehow, this made me think that I could never have a similar story of transformation, because I thought that only happened once, when someone first came to faith. I wanted such a testimony and I mistakenly thought I’d never have one (be careful what you wish for).
Today’s passage is one such story of radical change. When Jesus called Peter, James, and John to follow him, they radically abandoned their old lives and followed Christ. Their obedience serves as an example to us. To be disciples, we too must abandon the old life to follow the new one.
What about those of us who have grown up believing in God? Do we not get that one radical moment of life transformation? It’s a mistake to interpret the disciples experience as only a once-and-done moment of change. Jesus still had much to teach them and Peter still experienced profound failure when he (three times) denied knowing Christ. Though the disciples had their initial moment of radical transformation, they still needed to grow for the rest of their days, continuing to abandon the old life for the new.
This is the life of the disciple as Jesus himself described it: If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (Luke 9:23). We don’t just decide once to lose weight, get sober, find faith, or follow God. Transformation is an ongoing process. Leaving the old life to follow the new one is something we must work on for the rest of our lives.
In my old life, I believed in God, but I insisted on following me. In doing so, I found my own disaster and got my chance to experience dramatic self-destruction. Though I’m not thankful for the pain I caused others, I’m thankful that God used it to teach me that transformation is an ongoing process that will last the rest of my life.