Mark 1:14-20 (NRSV)
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news." 16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you fish for people." 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
Last week I wrote about wanting to be an astronaut. Even as a fourth grader, I quickly realized space travel was not in my future. I didn't have the math and science skills. My eyesight was poor and I wasn't athletic.
This did not hinder me from pursuing my passion by another path. I decided to build a rocket. If I couldn't be an astronaut, I would find another way to participate in space exploration.
I informed my fourth teacher, Mrs. Bost that I wanted to build a rocket as my science project. She gave her approval and I set to work with my best friend and fellow space nerd, Keith Gibby.
The rocket was crudely built from a piece of copper tubing and thin sheets of metal that we soldered on the tube to make fins and a nosecone. The propellant was gunpowder obtained by cutting shotgun shells apart.
On launch day, Mrs. Bost made the class observe the blast-off from inside the classroom (probably a good idea since our rocket was nothing more than a vertical pipe bomb!). Keith and I placed the rocket on its wooden two-by-four launch pad, lit the fuse, and ran for cover. Suddenly there was an explosion and the rocket was gone. We found the remnants of our project on top of the school building. I have no idea how high the rocket flew. We were just excited that it seemed to work. Fortunately, no one died and we managed to keep all our digits and limbs! We believed we could build a rocket. We believed it would fly and it did.
Believing in something has the capacity to propel (no pun intended) us into an unknown future. Jesus believed it was time to start His ministry. He also believed in the twelve disciples whom He chose to carry His words and deeds forward. The twelve disciples also believed they were making the right choice when they abandoned their fishing nets to follow.
Jesus came "proclaiming the Good News of God . . . repent and believe." He followed this bold statement up with a call to Peter, Andrew, James, and John to "Follow me." They believed enough to drop everything and go with Jesus. This was a bold choice considering the fact there were looming signs of trouble. Herod would soon use his influence and power to execute John the Baptist. Herod was not the kind of man whose ego would allow someone like Jesus to gain any significant popularity.
In spite of everything, God believed and His Son Jesus believed it was time for a change. The people were praying for a Messiah. People believed and their prayers were answered. It might not have been the best of times from a human perspective but it was God's time. Do you believe? Will you listen for Jesus' call in 2014? Will you follow? Think about it.
Lord, I want to believe. Help me to follow. Challenge me to be faithful. Amen.