What was it like to be Simon Peter's brother?

  I wonder what it was like to be Andrew.

 

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.” – John 1:40-42

 

I wonder what it was like to be the one to hear first, to go get your brother, but as quickly as you find him, to fall back into his shadow. To be introduced not based on your own identity, but on your brother’s, for he, and not you, is the one called the Rock on which Jesus will build His Church.

 

I wonder what it was like to be called at the same time as this brother, and a few other friends…

 

“As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him." –Mark 1:16-20

 

… but then to watch as those three, and not you, are called aside and set apart for exceptional times with the Jesus you love.

 

“After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them.” – Mark 9:2

“They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him” – Mark 14:32-33

 

I wonder what it was like to be Andrew.

 

Did he feel pulled between contentment and disappointment? Knowing that he should feel grateful for the position he was given, but wondering if he would ever be the one lifted up? Did he dream that someday he would be the one to preach the sermon that changed the trajectory of the church in the world?

 

When his brother and friends get back from that special excursion up the mountain with Jesus, was Andrew twisted in his gut because of the scene they entered into, that healing the disciples who were left behind couldn’t perform? When that scene began, did Andrew hope this would be his chance, his opportunity to shine and to be seen, and he blew it?

 

When Andrew and the others ask Jesus later why they couldn’t perform the miracle, was the question accompanied by tears? Was the tone revealing of hearts plagued with the deep ache of “why not me”?

 

A little while later, when the disciples argue about who would be the greatest, I wonder which one of them started the discussion.

 

Was it a discussion of bragging or of longing? I wonder if it was a question posed by those who had been left behind a few scenes earlier, pondering whether Jesus would ever ask them to be the ones to journey up a mountain with him. Questioning whether they should dare to hold onto hope.

 

I wonder what happened in their hearts when they heard these words of Jesus in response.

 

“Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.’” –Mark 9:35

 

To Andrew, were these words life-giving or spirit-squelching?

 

I don’t know how Andrew felt, but I do know how I feel: these words of Jesus are so much more difficult than we like to admit. 

Dreaming Dreams and Finding Contentment

His favorite thing to do these days is drive. Whenever he can, he hops into his red convertible and takes it for a spin, even if it’s only to go around the block. He sits taller and smiles wider when he is behind that wheel.

Did I mention he is not yet two years old?

Driving captures his imagination. He is in cars so often, shuffling his older brother to and from preschool, running errands with his mom, traveling the distance to visit family. He sits in his car seat watching others drive and imagines what it will be like. What will happen when he is the one in control of making that magic machine called a car take him from one place to another.

His favorite thing to imagine is the day he gets to do something he cannot yet do. The day he gets to have something he cannot yet have.

Do we ever really grow out of that?

The dreams that consume a child’s play also consume the adult’s mind. We go to college and look forward to the day we will have a job. We are single and fantasize about the day we will be married. We rent an apartment and hope for the day we will own our own home. We are married and think about what it will be like when we have kids. We have a good job and make plans for the day we will have a better one.

We expend so much of today’s mental energy thinking of the tomorrows we hope to have.

In many ways, this is a beautiful expression of our humanity. We are imaginative creatures with the capacity to change over time. It is a joy to dream about how we will transform throughout our lives.

But in other ways, this fascination with the future is crippling.

We consume our thoughts with what else we want, what more we desire, and suddenly, what we have now doesn’t feel like enough. Our present circumstances start to feel itchy. Our heart looks for more comfortable surroundings and takes up residence in these future imaginings.

And then, what happens if this idealized future doesn’t come to pass?

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. – Proverbs 27:1

Life can change in an instant. There are no guarantees of what tomorrow will look like. As we wish and plan in our minds, we cannot let our hearts get too wound up in it all. We have to find a way to hold it all loosely.

We must find contentment in the present         Even as we dream for the future. We must find contentment in the future         Even when it doesn’t match our dreams. We must keep our dreams in perspective.

How?

Perspective comes when we hold onto what is constant: God. A God who loves us. A God is present with us now and will be present with us in the future. A God who brings us joy and peace, no matter our circumstances.

Keep your lives free from the love of money (or the future or plans or dreams) and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:12-13

Do you think a lot about the future? What do you think? How can we dream without losing contentment?

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God-given dreams mean a God-given path

In Genesis 37:1-11Joseph has dreams that are bold. He dreams that his father, mother, and brothers will all bow down to him. These dreams sound conceited. They sound audacious. They sound bizarre. And they are. But they are also true.

It seems that Joseph believes the dreams are true, even though his family does not. (Can you blame them?) If I were in Joseph’s shoes, I think I would believe the dreams, too. After all, they are appealing. Who wouldn’t want to be respected by those closest to you? Who wouldn’t want to have power over those that had formerly made your life difficult?

Joseph’s dreams were given to him by God: a rare glimpse into his future. But, what God does not give Joseph is a glimpse at the path he will take to get to that future.

The path to Joseph’s dreamed future is full of twists and turns. It is full of danger and disappointment. It is full of many places where Joseph likely lost hope that those dreams would ever become a reality.

Sometimes I have felt that God is leading me somewhere. And when that happens, I often try to take control of the path to get there. I am prone to “taking the bull by the horns.” I grasp for control. I create a plan.

path

But if I am to accept the dream God gives me of my future, then I also must accept the path he gives me to get there.

For as he says in Isaiah,

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts,” -Isaiah 55:8-9

I believe this to be true, but yet I too often live like it is not. I live like my plan is better.

Father, help me to trust my future to you: all of it.

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