Sermon YOUNG LIFE, Barossa, Infusion Service, March 1, 2020

Mark 1:16-20

16 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. 17 ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ 18 At once they left their nets and followed him.

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

I want to encourage you tonight to trust that God does have great purpose for you and call you to keep on seeking him for it.   

Even if you are in year 7 or 8, it won’t be that long until you have to make those decisions about what you think you might head into after school. If you are in year 9, subject choices have begun. If you are in the last few years of your school journey, you are right in the middle of working at the choices you have made.

I remember all this being pretty overwhelming. I really had little idea of what I was heading for after school. Whenever someone asked that question that you get asked all the way along; from grade 2 to year 12; ‘What are you going to be when you grow up?”, I never had a clue.

How about you?  

Who would say that they have a pretty clear picture of career/ job after school?  

Who would say they have got a few choices of which one will probably come off?  

Who would say they really don’t know at all?  

I found it all pretty hard. Maybe it is because the school journey for me was hard – not because of the school or the teachers, but because of what was going on for me outside of school.  

I went to 8 schools in my 12 years of school. This was because of poverty and divorce and all the trouble that goes with them.  

We were constantly moving. Dad chased work. Mum and Dad never had what you would call a loving relationship.  

They split when I was in grade 2. Dad re-married. My step mum and I never got on. Mum had relationships and got married a few times – two those times where in my high school years.   

So, the grief of parents not getting on and divorcing, the constant moving, the lack of resources to do stuff, the lack of connection to other people, the lack of mentors and trusted adults at home made trying to learn anything and achieve anything much at school pretty hard.   

I spent most of the time at school feeling scared in one way or another. I was often ‘the new kid’. If you have ever been a new kid, you know it is hard. You want to fit in and find friends, but they may not accept you and you may end up being alone most of the time and that feel yuck.   

Then, there is always this thing about a bunch of kids together. Someone always seems to want to be top dog and sometimes they will do anything to get that title and do anything to keep it. In some of state schools I went to, the top dog battle was full on and it included violence.   

My worst ever new school was a huge working class suburban school For the first week there was a fight every lunch time: hundreds of kids swarming around the two people doing battle with teachers breaking their way in to break it up. Pretty scary for a new little year 8 country kid in a school of 1500 city kids who were used to this! I lasted a term. 

I got hammered by a big year 10 kid and his mates one Saturday for no good reason. That was it. I said to mum that I wanted out. I went back to the country to live with my Dad and my troublesome step mum. It was better than getting smashed around and living in fear all the time!  

Something happened though – later in the school journey that changed everything.   

About the end of year 9 my sister, who was now married to a Lutheran farmer who had a living faith in Jesus, made me go to youth camp in the summer holidays.   

I did not want to go. I only knew two guys who were going, and they were older than me. I did not want to walk into another new group and have to be the new guy again.   

But, somehow, my sister made it happen and I went.   

I couldn’t believe it. I was the new guy, but I was totally welcomed. I was not the last guys waiting to picked in the team for stuff. They wanted me to be on their team for stuff. They had fun and lots of it, and it was free of any sexual jokes and off stuff – just good clean fun with a big welcoming spirit. I was included and I was totally wrapped! 

Now, when I think about this, I think about a story the gospel writers tell of Jesus.  

Jesus has just been baptised by John in the Jordan and everyone heard this amazing voice say, “This is my Son with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him”. In other words, “Go”, Jesus. Your work has begun. Then he finds himself out in the harsh Israeli desert struggling with huge temptation to give up his mission. He doesn’t.   

Then he is back in his home region down on the beach and he comes across two brothers….  

Mark 1:16-20 

16 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. 17 ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’18 At once they left their nets and followed him.

They just left it all and followed him! What was it about him that enabled them to just go with him?  

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

 These guys did the same. Professional fishermen in a family business and a stable future (which easy not was not easy to have in their time).   

That happened to me as year 10 started in those summer holidays. Or at least it began to happen for me – not in one moment but over the last three years of school, which were my best.   

Best because I was at a really good school with fantastic teachers – a Catholic boys’ school. None of that stuff the media love to tell about happened for anyone I know of in this school.   

Those teachers, some of whom were part of an order or brotherhood, were fantastic men of discipline and compassion that were great to be around.   

But that was not the most telling thing that made school different now. It was this Jesus and his calling.   

After camp I just had to keep hanging out with my new friends and mentors. A big chunk of them happened to be a part of a local Lutheran Church only a few km’s away from where I was living. Mum was OK with me going to stuff. So I went to Sunday worship and youth group and anything else I could.   

I started to get to know real people who were not pretending to be perfect or squeaky clean or better than anyone. In fact, they were the first to admit their mistakes and their weaknesses. I learnt some of them for myself – my weaknesses and my mistakes.   

But they also told the stories of Jesus and constantly talked about him and sung songs about him and to him. I found myself loving bible study and worship and conversations and new relationships.   

It was only then that I first got any sense of what I might do after school. I still did not rally know for sure. I could have gone down the whole agribusiness kind of road – maybe get an apprenticeship in Elders or Landmark, or study at Ag college to one day be a Farm Manager.   

But I loved being with people and being in conversation about God and especially learning more of Jesus and who he is and who I am as a result.   

So, there happened to be the first ever degree level course in Youth Work being run by one of the Uni’s. So I signed up and that was what I ended up doing after school. Youth work. That eventually led to being a Pastor.   

I want to tell you some things to encourage you now  

The Lord knows you. He knows you more than you know yourself. He knows you weaknesses, your fears, your worries, your pride, your ability to chase after lots of things that you think will be great but end up just being really bad for you.   

He knows that inside you is a wayward heart that will trust in just about anyone or anything more than the words of Jesus – his promises to make plenty of you and give you the gift of faith in God’s goodness, hope for your today and your tomorrow in Jesus, and enable you to love like I was loved by those young people at that camp and ever since.   

God knows your ability to trick yourself into pretending that you have it all together and don’t need anyone – including God. But he comes to you along that beach and says, “Come with me. See me, watch me, do as you see me doing and I will make more of you than you could ever make of yourself. 

Will you drop your net of self-focus, pretending to be what you are not, trying to be ‘In” so you don’t have to suffer being “out” with your peers?   

Will you drop the false belief that your job, your study, your career is all about you, and instead begin to let him show you that your work, your schooling, your study your life is actually a calling – a vocation; a calling from Jesus not to live for yourself but for his world?  

It was not easy for those four men and their eight other journeymen as they went with Jesus. You can tell from the stories that a couple of them tell that these guys were still confused about many things most of the time.   

They may have wondered what on earth Jesus was doing most of the time, but they were also exhilarated and challenged and fired up by what they saw and heard and were a part of. They saw him heal and love and pray and challenge the powerful.   

They eventually saw him die and they thought that that was it – it was all just a dream; another human lie; another misplaced faith of little value. They locked themselves away; scared deflated and unsure of what to do after life in Jesus’ school.  

Until they saw him alive and saying “Peace be with you” as he breathed a new life into them.   

Those men changed the world – not be power or politics or science or intelligence or great wisdom, but by speaking and doing Jesus’ word – often at great cost to themselves. They all died for their faith except one – the Apostle John.   

Kids, he is always calling you. He is on your beach and he is always calling you and as you follow cool things happen.  

School becomes something new – not something to be suffered so you can get to what you really want to do on the weekend, School becomes a place of your calling; your following of Jesus and learning from him as you learn to love others.   

Work is not something to be angry about, to curse and swear about, to worry about and stress out about, work becomes a gift, a freeing activity that teaches you much and gets you further along the growing up journey in Gods preferred future for you.   

Work and school become not all about you but all about you giving, serving, contributing to the lives of others. It becomes Jesus working through your words and your actions to draw others into his calling to drop their nets and come and follow him with you.   

It was a  Thursday night when I ended up running out of the house in fear at night with nowhere to go wondering what on earth would become of me, if you had of told me that I would be married and have fur children and two daughters-in-law and know thousands of people across the country and across the world and have a job I love and people who love me, and a contribution to make to the world…. I would have kept running!  

None of Jesus calling happens all at once. He calls you day by day to simply follow him for today. He takes care of the longer stuff, the bigger picture.   

He does not call you because you are good, or smart, or religious, or gifted. He just calls you and makes of you what he wants and that will be best for you because his acceptance and forgiveness are best for everyone.   

You can drop your net of fears. You can leave your own vision of you and plan for your life.   

No need to be scared all the time.   

No need to be worried about feeling like the stranger, feeling alone all the time.   

Trust that God does have great purpose for you and call you to keep on seeking him for it.  

“Come, follow me and I will make you catchers of people with me”.