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Life Beyond Your Wildest Expectations – Br. John Braught

Br. John BraughtMatthew 4:18-22.

As Jesus walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea – for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, whose dramatic call to follow Jesus we just heard. Jesus extends his irresistible invitation: “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” Andrew, along with his brother Peter, as well as James and John, immediately respond with radical obedience. Immediately, the gospel writer emphasizes, immediately these first-called disciples drop everything – their livelihood, homes, families, ambitions, hopes, and expectations – everything is cast aside in order to follow Jesus.

Now, what’s missing here is any sense of what was going on in the lives of these men, of what would make it possible for them to respond so radically and obediently to Jesus’ call. I can’t help but think there must be more to the story. Some questions they asked, “What do you mean fish for people?” Some fears they expressed, “How will we make a living?” Some sadness they felt, “Can I say goodbye to my mother?” And perhaps even a protest or two, “But this is the only life we’ve ever known!”

Yes, it’s safe to assume that being human, like the rest of us, the first disciples had questions, doubts, insecurities, and reservations in the face of Jesus’ call. It’s safe to assume the first disciples struggled with letting go. And it didn’t stop after their initial call, it continued for their lifetime.

And the same for us, a lot of us struggle with letting go. Yet, it’s probably incorrect to say we struggle to let go. We struggle, rather, when we refuse to let go. When we cling, when we grasp, when we work and try harder, to do better and to be good, then, then we struggle. But letting go is about trust, radical trust. Letting go is about trusting Jesus. Trusting that whatever Jesus calls us to is far better than anything we are being asked to leave behind. We are never asked to let go of anything we wouldn’t be infinitely better off without.

That’s not to say we won’t have questions, and that’s not to say we won’t have doubts, or reservations in response to Jesus’ call. Nor does it mean that our lives will be free from pain and problems. But the same God who calls us to new life is the same God who empowers us to let go of the old life, just as He empowered Andrew, Peter, James, and John to let go of everything, immediately, despite their doubts and fears.

Living life with open arms, that is, letting go, letting go of the plans and designs we have for our own lives; we trust that God is working through us, enabling us to become the people He created us to be. We trust that good things will come to us, even if some good things aren’t always what we have in mind. Andrew, for example, faced a martyr’s death. He could, no doubt, have spent his entire life casting nets into the Sea of Galilee with his brother, but he accepted the pain of letting go, he accepted the risk of following Jesus, and lived a life beyond anything he could have hoped for or imagined, and, in effect, impacted the whole world.

So Jesus extends the same invitation to us: let go, trust me, follow me. The way will not always be easy, and we will we often have questions, doubts, and reservations in response to Jesus’ ongoing call. But the same Jesus who calls us will empower us to follow Him day-by-day. And we find, in the end, that when we follow him, the new life we live not only far surpasses the old life we let go of, but is in fact far better than anything we ever hoped for or imagined. Amen.

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12 Comments

  1. David Cranmer on January 17, 2017 at 22:49

    Your message is so helpful. From attending Step meetings I became aware of the saying, “Let go and let God.” But I have always had trouble figuring that out. Your message gives me an insight into the meaning. I can see now that I don’t have to despair because I can’t do it all at once. I can remember to let go of my agenda, one item at a time. Thank you.

  2. Shelley on January 17, 2017 at 12:20

    Thank you for your challenging yet reassuring words.

  3. Rhode on January 17, 2017 at 12:19

    Jesus asks me to let go of fears and doubts. Fears of family conflict with my beliefs, fears for becoming too cynical too resentful of our countries policies and new leader, doubts about the ability of love to walk us through violence, apathy, deception. It is more important now than ever to remember Who it is who invited me to trust, to obey, to believe, to live fully in love and compassion, to dig deep and anchor into the words and life of Jesus as example of the way, the truth and life.” Not by might, nor by power but by my Spirit says the Lord of hosts.”

  4. Reberta Skinner on January 17, 2017 at 12:13

    Dear Brother John,
    Today’s message is just what I needed to read as I deal with family illness. I had slipped into to thinking this is to much for me when it isn’t with God’s love.
    Thank you, Reberta

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  6. Mino Sullivan on October 12, 2016 at 10:27

    Thank you John for your lovely reminder of how much better life is when we live through our inner Christ. I don’t spend my day in prayer as you do, but if I live my worldly life with the constant awareness to live from my spiritual loving being, then every interaction becomes an opportunity for growth, an opportunity to love and my heart over flows with joy. My prayer today is, “Please don’t let me forget what I know to be true. Please help me to remember.”

  7. Margo on October 12, 2016 at 10:09

    Dear Br. John, “We are never asked to let go of anything we wouldn’t be infinitely better off without.” Is so matter of fact yet so sanguine. I hope it’s true. Thank you. Margo.

  8. Rhode on October 12, 2016 at 08:46

    Love this message. Trust and letting go is a daily exercise. God has graciously answered prayers in my 62 yrs that defy imagination. By now, I should be trusting like St Francis, right? Ha! Like Peter, on the water, I take my eyes off Jesus and down I go. Yet, the next morning in prayer and scripture there is solace, comfort, advice and examples of love and healing… the sun rises and God goes before me to create ways to trust again and more. The daily ability to let go of my need to control seems to correlate directly with ‘seeking the kingdom first’; giving time each day to reflect, pray and grow in the Word.

    • Ruth West on October 12, 2016 at 23:06

      Rhode, I like your post so very much. Thanks. When I was going to a country church in my youth, we sang a good gospel song, “Trust and Obey.” I still sing it sometimes. I liked your reference to the story of Jesus and Peter. How true it is that when we take our eyes off Jesus, down we go! God bless you, and may he bless Br. John for this good sermon.

  9. george miiler on December 2, 2013 at 21:57

    but there have been some leaders who should not have been followed because they did some terrible things. So how can we not ask those questions you mention?

    • Jean Ann Schulte on December 7, 2013 at 11:03

      Perhaps this is the purpose of prayerful discernment? But even then, it is still so INCREDIBLY hard to let go and trust.

  10. Ruth West on December 2, 2013 at 13:49

    Thank you, Br. John, for this good message. For years, I kept a small clipping on my fridge which was entitled, “Let go…” It emphasized the truth
    of your sermon. It was hard for me to let go of certain worries and approach
    Jesus with open hands and open arms. Since that time, He has made it possible for me to turn loose of those things and let go. Following where He leads is a joy and blessing. How much more peaceful is my life now than then! Not to say that surrender is not a daily commitment.

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