There are “destiny” moments, when you make life-changing choices. What makes it hard is that at the time they may not seem like–life-changing choices.
In Matthew 8:21 we have an example of a man missing out on the chance of a lifetime. A man said to Jesus, "Lord,” another of his disciples said, “let me first go and bury my father." Notice he doesn’t say, “My father has died and I need to go and bury him.” He’s speaking hypothetically, “WHEN my father dies and the inheritance comes through.” A common day equivalent would be, “Wait until I’m financially secure and I’ll follow you.” Jesus invited him to get in the boat with him. “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead." But the man refused. He literally missed the boat, the “Jesus boat.”
Jesus asks us all to put following him before our own comfort. This is hard to do because we are all creatures of comfort. Sometimes it’s relationship comfort, or job comfort, or financial comfort. I once talked to a man who refused an invitation to go on the mission field in Africa because he wanted “culture” comfort. He didn’t want to adjust to a new culture and language. That man “missed the boat.”
When Jesus says, “Follow me,” he was inviting him to do mission with him. Our Lord wasn’t talking about becoming his disciple, because the text says he was already a disciple. Almost every day we have an opportunity to do mission with Jesus. The Lord is in the boat ready to go. Will we miss the boat?
The point is that Christ calls us to be urgently in mission for him right where we are. Maybe it’s taking a friend to lunch and listening as he pours out his troubles. Maybe it’s watching our neighbors kids while she goes to the doctor. Maybe it’s picking up a newcomer and taking her to church on Sunday. Maybe it’s giving someone $100 so he can pay his electric bill.
We can talk ourselves out of helping in Christ’s name like the man in the story. He felt no urgency to get in the boat with Jesus. The text says Jesus and disciples went to the region of the Gadarenes and ministered to the demon-possessed. The man put it off and lost the opportunity forever.
Mainly, he lost out on time with Jesus. Also, he lost the satisfaction of changing peoples’ lives for good. And he lost out on getting Jesus’ approval for a job well done. He lost all that in order to hang out and wait for his father to die. Time well spent, or not?
Jesus teaches us two things: 1) We must choose serving others in Christ’s name to serving self. 2) We should DO IT NOW because we might not get another chance.
I don’t want to miss the boat and fail Jesus my Lord.