An athlete with great potential was involved in two different sports with different physical demands. He was naturally very good at sprinting, and had improved a lot as he matured and competed. His father had raced when he was younger, and was very involved in attending all of his son’s meets and competitions. He wasn’t quite as supportive toward his son’s other sport, tennis.
Nothing was better than to look up in the stands after the race and see his father’s face filled with pride when he won. As thrilling as that was, there were times when he was not first and did not dare look up to see his father’s face. The athlete’s track coach pushed him to better finish times and greatly improved his strength at the finish line with intensive training. It seemed very clear that this was going to improve further the following year.
The athlete’s friends did not understand it when he told them he had joined the tennis team. It was such a different sport with different rules, and they joked that it was a way to get attention. The athlete had not played much and had never trained formally. Most of the other players on the tennis team had been trained for years and made the sport appear easy. He struggled with his return, not able to judge where the ball would go like a seasoned tennis player would. Even in practice there were very few matches that he won.
When grades became an issue the next year, the athlete’s father demanded he choose only one sport and focus on it and his schoolwork. It was obvious which sport his father meant that he should choose; track. The young man struggled with indecision, not satisfied with how he had done in tennis the previous year. He was confident in his ability to run, but he wanted to conquer the failings he had in tennis so much that it bothered him to quit.
After a day of contemplation, the athlete made a decision that startled everyone who knew his situation. He would quit track and play tennis. His track coach was shocked, and tried to convince him to work on his grades and then ask his father to reconsider. The athlete would not agree to this, and simply thanked his coach for believing in him. An uncomfortable silence at home had already told the athlete that his decision was wrong in his father’s eyes, and nothing would change that.
As the tennis season began the young man poured his energy into the sport with an intensity that surprised his tennis coach. He had watched clips on the sport and practiced on his own and was a much better competitor. The athlete showed promise in practice and even began to win a few matches against his teammates. The athlete looked forward to the first few competitive matches, but soon realized he had much to learn when he lost several in a row.
His parents attended his tennis matches, but the lack of enthusiasm was quite apparent. The young man wondered if he had made a mistake because his determination didn’t seem to be enough. His coach continued to encourage and push him. He was a bit shocked when he decisively won the next three matches. The young man finished the tennis season with an impressive trophy and a scholarship to a school that was very happy to have someone who could run so quickly on their team.
—————Thoughts that motivated this story —————
In this story I wanted to reflect further on making the less safe choice.
20And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.
In Matthew 4:20 we read that the two brothers responded to the invitation made by Jesus to follow Him. Our author Matthew intentionally uses words that try to convey that there was no hesitation. ‘Straightway’, ‘immediately’, ‘at once’, or ‘right away’ are words used in different translations for what Matthew said here. So that we know it was not a dialog or a debate, Matthew also included one more detail. The nets they had just cast suddenly became unimportant and were left. This description adds more color to the picture Matthew is painting.
There is speculation that Peter and Andrew might have heard Jesus speak or knew of Him, and some say that they believed He was a rabbi. A rabbi that took notice of fishermen would certainly be a significant event. All of that speculation doesn’t really have an answer, it’s only interesting. I would prefer to focus on what we are told by Matthew. The life that these two men were living probably seemed pretty predictable, and there is a certain comfort in that. Jesus comes along and the purpose for their life changes with many unknowns.
That is so much like our own life with God. We believe we have everything under control and that we are going in the right direction. Without any warning I’ve seen the Lord throw a change that unsettled me. At those times it matters what I believe my purpose is in God’s plans. Do I really believe God? I may have to make a quick decision just like these two brothers and that is not easy. I like to take my time and deliberate. Jesus did not hesitate to pay my debt by dying on my behalf. That means I am a child adopted by God. Do I trust God as my Father enough to fulfill a greater purpose than I come up with on my own?
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