2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets.3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.”11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. Luke 5:2-4,10-11
As we are getting back into the swing of things again, we are watching as students and parents are stepping back into some sense of normalcy. One of the norms is ORIENTATION. Students who are moving from one school to another, changing from middle school to high school or even heading off into college are all experiencing this opportunity to go to orientation. It is a way to begin digging into an opportunity to connect with the campus and people in a new way than you have done before. Orientations are always filled with opportunities to tour the campus, meet the teachers, ask questions and hear talks about expectations. It gives us a sense and feeling that we are able to experience just a glimpse of what it is going to be like until we take the full plunge. I know that many of us know that when we tour the campus it is always shown in the most positive light and then we find out all of the truth when the first day comes. For me, college orientation made it feel as though it was going to be a dream like scenario for me and then I had to go to the book store and the reality set in quickly. It was just as chaotic as the rest of the world, but now I was in control of my freedom and had to make adult decisions that would effect the rest of my time in college.
As we look at our Christian journey, how would you feel about having an orientation for being a Christian? I know that some churches offer classes to help orient you on what they believe and what they teach and how the church is structured, but I believe that is a little bit different than being a Christian. Churches are truly meant to be disciple makers and places to connect, pray and send out. But what if there was a way to truly walk in the footsteps of
Jesus and see what the real meaning of being a Christian looked like. And yes, I know that some of you are saying that you have programs that help to develop people for their spiritual journey, and so do I, but imagine if we really followed the example of Christ and took the time to pour into people for three solid years. Imagine if we traveled together, ate every meal together, prayed together, and left everything else behind for the sake of the Gospel. How amazing would that be for every person. I think that many people probably would freak out and say, "nah that is just a little too much for me." And I truly believe that is the real purpose of orientation in the first place. It is meant to help us determine if this is the direction that we want to travel and realize just how difficult the journey may be at times. It does not mean that we are not going to have fun. It does not mean that everything is going to be a party, but what it does mean is that we recognize both the good and bad opportunities and we step forward with excitement to see what the future will hold.
In today's Scriptures, we are able to see the first part of the orientation process with Jesus and the first disciples. Recognize that their orientation and preparation lasted for three years and then they were asked to take the next step. How many people would be willing to do that with us? But reading the Scripture, we are able to see that there has been an importance placed on the first steps of trust and faith. Luke tells the story in more detail than Matthew or Mark, but we are able to see that Jesus first steps into their situation and asks them to go and fish. He knew that they had not been successful and Simon Peter was exhausted, as was the sons of Zebedee, James and John. But they rowed back out and tossed their nets on the opposite side of the boat and could not even begin to pull in the nets because they were weighted down with so many fish. It was the first step in their orientation of being a disciple. Jesus was testing to see if they would be faithful and trust Him, and when they were, God showed them favor. But like I said this miracle was their first impression. Peter literally bowed down and apologized to Jesus. Jesus responded with the words we use so much, "Don't be afraid, from now on you will catch men." And just to be honest with you, if that was my orientation experience, I would have dropped my nets and followed this man ANYWHERE He wanted me to go. It was the intentionality of the experience that led these men to give up everything and follow Him.
So today as you looked at your reflection in the mirror, did you see the beginnings of a disciple being formed? Have you been able to recognize that God has been preparing you during this orientation time to be ready in season and out of season to give a response for the Gospel? Have you seen that importance of being intentional in your day to day actions that may help lead others into a growing desire to connect more with God as well. Many of
us have already been through the orientation for being a Christian, but we have never taken the next step and stepped out in faith into a world filled with chaos. Yes, it took a long time for Jesus to properly orient the disciples into helping them see their true calling, so please don't think that we can figure it out all in one day. It means that we have to be willing to invest into the process and recognize the importance of leaning on the God's Word to direct our path. Please know that it really does take time to see the full meaning of the orientation process. But the people that have gone through it all of the way and graduated, most of them have completely sold out because of their experience. We want to do the same when it comes to people finding their place with Christ. At the end of the orientation process and when they make the decision to follow Jesus as a Christian, we want them to be SOLD OUT and ready to meet whatever may come the next day. We are all in different parts of this journey, and wherever you may be, I pray that God leads you to be so passionate and sold out for Him. If you are still trying to figure out where you are, call me... let's talk and maybe we can get you reoriented to the path God has set out for you.