“At once they left their nets and followed him … and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.” – Mt 4:20, 22
The call of Andrew and the first disciples is at once inspiring and daunting to me. How can the disciples follow, decisively and definitively, someone they hardly knew? I, like others, have been captivated and have followed. But my fears, sins, and limitations have often kept me back. It seems as if the more I follow Christ, the more I am challenged to be countercultural, the more I am confronted with my failures and unfaithfulness.
Yet, something else is also at work.
The parallel passage to today’s Gospel is Luke 5:1-11. We see Jesus meeting the disciples when they are down and out. They fished all night yet caught nothing. They had given up for the day. When they followed his guidance, not without some disbelief, they were surprised by the biggest catch. Peter did not want to follow because he defined himself as a sinner. Acknowledging this before Jesus begins to free his imagination to how greater he and his life can be. Likewise in my life, my failures and limitations can be gateways to grace – to genuine encounters with Jesus who unlocks my imagination to something greater.
That something greater might be called hidden grace. Grace as strength to face my failures and limitations. Grace to re-imagine stumbling blocks as launching pads. Grace to risk and take another step in following.
Although I would modify the way she poses her “life defining” question, Amy Purdy is inspiring in this TED video:
“Instead of looking at our challenges and our limitations as something negative or bad, we can begin to look at them as blessings – magnificent gifts that can be used to ignite our imagination to help us go further than we ever knew we could go.” – Amy Purdy
What if we ask God for the grace of imagination? Then face our present fears and failures but focus on God’s personal love and grace.