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Choosing Calling Over Comfort

March 3, 2020

“ … Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’” John 21:15a (NIV)

Have you ever felt God stirring you to do something that’s terrifyingly outside of your comfort zone? Something completely opposite of what you think you want to do?

I confess that left to my own choosing, I want to take the safe, certain and comfortable route. And then Scriptures march right up to my limited perspective and challenge me to walk a path I’d never choose on my own.

A question forms in my heart. One that forces me to stop and reconsider the path that terrifies: Do you love Jesus and want Him more than anything else?

It’s this question the resurrected Jesus asked one of His disciples, Peter, at a crucial crossroad in Peter’s life. And goodness gracious, do I ever relate to Peter.

He’d been following Jesus for years when things got hard. Jesus was crucified, and Peter took his eyes off the hard path of continuing in ministry he’d been called to. He went back to what felt safe, certain and comfortable … his original occupation of fishing.

When the resurrected Jesus appeared in the flesh, He ruined Peter’s justifications to stay safe. Peter’s destiny wasn’t to be a fisherman for the rest of his life. He was to be a shepherd of God’s people.

“ … Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’” (John 21:15a).

For Peter, the “these” which Jesus referenced might have been the large number of fish he’d just caught. Or “these” could have been anything else pulling Peter away from his calling. We all have our own “these” areas in life — things we sometimes choose over Jesus.

Thankfully, Jesus continues to invite us to a life of more. A life where we refuse to settle for less than all He’s called and designed us to do and to be.

That’s why I love the directives Jesus gives Peter in John 21:15‑17. I find it fascinating that Jesus asks Peter to do three things which mirror how shepherds actually care for their sheep in Israel even today.

Jesus commands Peter:

“FEED MY LAMBS” (John 21:15) — In the morning, the shepherd gets up early in the sheepfold and feeds the little lambs first. He picks up the little lambs. He holds them and checks them to make sure they are OK. He calls them by name because he knows the lambs intimately.

“TAKE CARE OF MY SHEEP” (John 21:16) — After feeding the lambs, the shepherd carefully leads the sheep down to a place where they can be fed. He leads them and cares for them.

“FEED MY SHEEP” (John 21:17) — The last step, once he’s fed the lambs, cared for the sheep and led them to a good pasture, is to feed the sheep.

So why is it so important to note that Jesus is giving these directives to Peter?

I believe Jesus is trying to turn Peter from a quick-judging fisherman into a caring shepherd. Fishermen quickly judged and counted the fish they caught. They threw out the small fish because they’d have to pay more in taxes than the fish was actually worth. They would look at the fish and say, “This one’s in, this one’s out, this one’s in, this one’s out.” Unlike a shepherd, a fisherman would never pick up the fish, love the fish, make sure the fish is OK or name the fish.

Yes, Peter has finished his season of being a fisherman of fish. Jesus is asking Peter to love Him more than the life Peter has known. Now He is calling Peter to be a shepherd for the people.

Jesus is also asking us to love Him more than the life we’ve known. And just like He equipped Peter by sending His Holy Spirit to fill and empower Peter for his calling (Acts 2), He willingly equips us. We have the gift of His Holy Spirit inside us and His written Word to continually guide us.

Sweet friends, let’s not rush past how amazing it is that the Lord wants to work through us — even with all our fears and failings. Let’s not allow fear or comfort to convince us to stay stuck in our same old ways. Let’s simply say to Jesus, “Yes, Lord. I love You more than these,” and follow His lead.

Lord, my soul declares “yes” to You today. Even if my hands are trembling … even if my feet feel shaky on this new path … I say “Yes.” I love You, and I will live for You. Change me. Lead me. I’m Yours. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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10 Comments
  1. Didi

    My husband and I are praying about moving out of state without jobs to both be able to obtain good jobs and attend a church we follow online. We counseled and prayed last night with a pastor. Today, I read this. It’s a love letter from God to us. ❤️

    Reply
  2. Shannon Olson

    This is an “on time” Word! I am just beginning in ministry and sometimes I feel so overwhelmed and like a failure. This reminds me that I made a commitment and said YES to His calling. I will love Him more than “these”. Thank you Lysa!

    Reply
  3. Carol

    This was definitely needed today …. my husband has been approached about a new pastoral ministry.
    Jesus, I’m listening …..

    Reply
  4. Elizabeth

    This prayer stirs my soul. Yes, Lord, with trembling hands and shaky feet. Yes!

    Reply
  5. Jackie

    Dear Lysa,
    I have just finished reading “Becoming more than a Bible Study Girl” and throughout my reading, all I told God was “Yes”. “Yes” to His calling and “Yes” to availing myself to Him.
    Thank You because through Your book I was convicted the more to abandon myself to His perfect will.
    May God richly bless you.

    Reply
  6. Curtiss Ann

    Thank your for sharing your wisdom. I needed to read this. I stepped out of my comfort zone. I’ve been praying and talking it all over with Lord Jesus this morning, and was led right to your essay. God is so good. Thank you again.

    Reply
  7. Susan Christiansen

    Dear Lysa,
    Thank you so much for your encouragement and book, It’s not supposed to be this way. We are a group of six women, we call ourselves ‘6 dusty women’ as a reminder we are but dust living between two gardens. We meet once a week for a Bible study and have just completed your book mentioned above. What a huge blessing and how very timely! The study was started by a woman in our church who had recently become a widow much too young. She was encouraged and wanted to help other women to find the same promises from God’s word that she found while reading your book. God brought six of us together to meet and have dinner while we discuss what we have learned from God’s word and pray for each other. We have completed the book and are continuing to meet to pray for the women in our ladies ministry.

    Little did we know, God put us together for a special purpose and at just the right time. About a month after starting our study, one of our ladies’ adult son was hospitalized due to skin ulcers (he is in a wheelchair due to an accident that left him paralyzed) that had become infected and were not healing. While in the hospital he suffered a cardiac arrest, he spent a very long time in the hospital healing and gaining strength. Praise God he is home now with his wife and is continuing to heal. Shortly after that my husband had unexpected open heart surgery and suffered complications from ulcerative colitis. After being out of work and healing since November, he will be returning to work later this month. Another one of our ladies is dealing with sudden health issues that have caused her to be transported to the hospital in a medical crisis multiple times and still has no answers as to why the episodes are happening. Another one of our ladies is dealing with digestive problems that have had her in the emergency department for pain relief and help, and is also still looking for answers. We sound like a wreck, but we are not. We know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God brought us together and had us read your book and study God’s word just to prepare us for what was ahead.

    We want to thank you for listening to God when He asked you to share such personal and scary times in your life. When you were going through it all and asking ‘why’ I believe God was using you to prepare 6 dusty women to walk very hard and scary paths. We can see in your testimony that God is faithful and now we KNOW from personal experience. I would love to go on and on and tell you about all the miracles and needs God has done and met, but I would fill up your entire blog area. Praise God for His unending love and care for us!

    Reply
  8. Sharon Witherspoon

    Thank you for sharing this. I truly needed it. For years my mare and I have been serving God through attending horse shows and testifying of how God has worked through us and for us. However, she’s now 18 and injuries and her age make it entirely possible that her career as a show horse has drawn to a close, which is very difficult to accept. While she has been healing, God encouraged me to write and self publish a book about our journey with Him, and He much more recently has been nudging me to speak on all He has done for me in order to encourage others. This is very much out of my comfort zone. Riding at shows, singing, writing…those are all right up my alley. But speaking…that’s a different story. However, like you said, if God calls us to it, He’ll equip us to do it. Thank you for reminding me of that fact as I step out in faith!

    Reply
  9. Michele Bonifanti

    Thank you, Lysa. Your messages are always encouraging to me.

    Michele Bonifanti

    Reply
  10. Pam Davis

    I saw you in West Monroe a few weeks back and was so moved at the conference. I’ve felt the Lord calling me for years and through the journey He has been preparing me for so much more than what I am currently doing. I keep in mind that He doesn’t call the qualified, but qualifies the called. I have no idea how to pursue this calling other than praying and seeking to fulfill the purpose He has for me. I am currently doing your Uninvited study and it has opened my eyes to many things about myself and I’ve gotten so much encouragement from the pages of wisdom you share. My faith has been rooted firmly thanks to you and other women who share so boldly Gods love and grace. Please pray for me as I begin this journey and for Gods affirmation as I seek His will!
    Love in Christ,
    Pam

    Reply
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