A young man worked hard and was accepted to attend his favorite college. It was a very prestigious school and very expensive, but he was given a scholarship for his academic achievements. He had put aside money to help supplement his living expenses but hoped to find a part-time job on campus.
Because of previous job experiences, he was hired on a trial basis as an assistant for a professor. The professor was very critical of his work and expected a great deal from the new assistant. She had hoped for a different student who she knew personally that had missed the deadline to apply as her assistant. She decided to find something to compel her new assistant to resign or be fired.
The young man appeared more of a challenge to get rid of then she first suspected. He was bright enough to manage the intellectual challenges she gave him and although she was hard on him, he seemed to accept her criticism too easily. Suspicious of this, she began to wonder if he had something to hide. She believed he was bright but didn’t learn easily because he took very detailed notes and referred to them often.
The professor caught one of her students cheating on a major exam and debated what to do. She knew the student was in the same dorm with her assistant, and she knew he might have access to information she could use. The term was already half over and she still had no hope of finding an easy solution to her problem. Her assistant was slower than she liked and he irritated her. She believed things would be easier if she had a better assistant.
The professor met with the cheat after class and made a compelling case. The professor’s assistant was a more masterful cheat and liar, and must be caught and removed from the school. If he helped her prove his guilt, she would overlook the mistake and allow him to continue in the class, but he would have a reduced score on the exam as a consequence. The young man debated only a moment, and then agreed.
The cheat tried to find an easy way to prove his roommate was unethical. The young man studied well into the night and seemed constantly driven toward some goal just out of reach. The cheat found nothing interesting in the notes or books his roommate kept, and wondered how he was able to cheat. He could only conclude that perhaps the evidence was in the young man’s backpack.
When the professor heard back that nothing useful was found, she was furious. Taking matters into her own hands, she decided it was necessary to trap her assistant by giving him access to information that would help him in several challenging classes that term. She set the circumstances carefully and waited to spring her trap at the right moment.
The young man noticed that several times his boss left him alone in her office for several minutes. He also noticed that she had information from several other teachers, including what might be their test and answer sheets. After finding several suspicious items, he decided it was best to address it. He brought the evidence to the school board. The professor denied selling answers to students, but could not disagree that she possessed them.
—————Thoughts that motivated this story —————
In this story I wanted to reflect on a decision that involved an easy way and the right way.
19And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
In Matthew 4:19 we read that Jesus has invited two brothers to follow Him. The invitation makes a promise that seems odd, but Matthew included it so let’s think about it. Why would anyone want to ‘catch’ men? If they weren’t expecting or hoping to be part of a criminal enterprise where they caught men and took from them, what could that promise mean to them? Matthew doesn’t tell us they understood what it meant, and sometimes we don’t know what will happen at the end of a decision we make either, just as in this story with both the professor and the assistant.
Some may say that this statement is obvious; Jesus is inviting them to be missionaries or preachers who tell a message. Further, that this preaching is similar to fishing; you put the lure on the line and wait for a fish to respond and in a similar way, the messenger waits for men to respond. I suggest that although it is a useful analogy, it can go too far and I’m not sure Matthew included it to mean all of that. I like the idea of God drawing people to Him; not the messenger/person, or any kind of lure. Jesus certainly didn’t use lures, he often made people very uncomfortable.
The amazing thing about God is that He invites us to a relationship with Him, just like Jesus did here. Jesus didn’t drag the two men from their job or use coercion or a convincing speech. As I said above, we aren’t told that these men even understood what it meant to be fishers of men. But maybe they got this much: My life will be different after this if I follow him. It is God’s will to allow us to have a choice. The road ahead is not known for any of us, even if we think we know the direction. The only part I have great confidence on my road ahead is this, if I choose God’s ways I will know more of God and be glad I did!
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