This is the first of a series of monthly reflections by On Ramps Missional Member Dallas Nord! Here's a little bit about Dallas
"At home I am a husband and father. At work I am an almond and raisin farmer. Once in a while I am a runner, writer, and bird-watcher. Everywhere I go I am a theologian trying to tell the story of Jesus and the kingdom of God. As a theological writer, I aim to craft written works that stoke the theological imaginations of others. "
When Jesus called Simon and Andrew to be his disciples, they were casting a net into the Sea of Galilee. The net which flew from their calloused fishermen’s hands was more than just a tool of their trade. That net symbolized their entire identities. It was an extension of themselves. When the coarse fibers of that net were clasped within their hands, Simon and Andrew felt most alive—most truly themselves. If you were to ask them, “Who are you?” Their response likely would have been, “We are fishermen.”
Jesus did not ask them that question though. He already knew who they were, and he knew they were much more than fishermen. So, he invited them to leave behind that which was holding them back from their truest calling.
“Come, follow me.”
“At once, they left their nets and followed him” (Mark 1:18). The net which had symbolized their entire lives was left dripping on the floor of the boat while Simon and Andrew walked off in pursuit of Jesus. Sure, they would always be fishermen, but Jesus was transforming that identity into something greater. They might not have realized it yet, but they had been unleashed for the purpose God had set out before them.
Being unleashed—being unbound from what or who we thought we were—is scary. To be unleashed is to be set free, and with freedom comes uncertainty. Simon’s and Andrew’s futures had been fairly certain: they would fish until they could fish no more. The moment they dropped that net, however, the clarity of their future became clouded by the dust of their new rabbi’s footsteps. They could no longer see what the future held for them.
Even with its uncertainty, becoming unleashed is good news. The same freedom that creates anxiousness within us also creates the possibility that we might live into the purpose for which God has made us.
My family has a dog named Mister. Mister is not the kind of dog that can stay calm and collected if let off of his leash. You could say he has more of an adventurous spirit. Despite our best efforts, Mister occasionally takes advantage of a door or gate left open. When this happens, he runs down the street with his tail wagging, his nose following whatever scent crosses his path, and his tiny legs moving briskly and with purpose. I would say that in that moment when he is completely unleashed, Mister is most dog-like. His dog-ness is fulfilled. Being unleashed is good news to Mister.
I don’t typically compare people to dogs, but since Mister is adorable I don’t have a problem making this particular comparison. You and I can be like Mister. We can experience the freedom of being unleashed into our full identities. Jesus knows that we are more than fishermen. He knows that we are prophets, teachers, preachers, evangelists, leaders, miracle-workers, and mercy-givers. Jesus unleashes us to grab hold of our spiritual giftings and live into the identities for which we have been created.
Being unleashed is good news. We each have leashes that pull on us, trying to define us and control our direction. Our careers pull us one way. Fear pulls us another. Addiction, anxiety, perfectionism, pride, lust, and shame pull us every other direction, all claiming mastery over us. There are so many leashes pulling on us at once that it feels like we can never become who we are supposed to be. It’s as if we are caught in a net.
Then Jesus calls: “Come, follow me.”
Like Simon and Andrew, we are invited to drop our nets—whatever it is that currently defines us—and instead walk into the giftings and identities Jesus has in store for us. It is then that we become most truly ourselves. It is then that we become unleashed—unleashed from what currently defines us and unleashed for God’s glory and neighbor’s good.
What is your net? Maybe there is an actual item that seems to define your current identity.
Imagine yourself being unleashed from that identity. What do you feel? Relief? Anxiety? Something else?
Now imagine yourself being unleashed for God’s glory and neighbor’s good. What role do you see yourself playing? What spiritual gifts do you sense within yourself?