Tag Archives: Jesuits

Follow Me


On Thursday I watched the new Martin Scorsese movie Silence. It’s about two Portuguese Jesuit missionaries who travel to Japan during a time of intense persecution of Christians. Many Japanese were tortured and killed for their faith. Many more gave up their faith to avoid persecution. At the climax of the movie, one of the missionaries is given a choice – renounce his faith and save the lives of five Japanese Christians or keep his faith and watch them die a cruel and painful death. I won’t spoil the ending by telling you what he did, but I will say that it was a difficult film to watch at times.

Like the missionaries in the movie, the earliest disciples had no idea what they were getting themselves into when Jesus called them. The first four, two sets of brothers, were all fishermen: Peter, Andrew, James, and John. Matthew 4:18-22 tells the story. What’s impressive is how these men left their nets and followed Jesus IMMEDIATELY when Jesus came and said to them, “Follow me.” Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. Traveling from town to town with a rabbi must have sounded better than doing the same strenuous work day after day. To be sure, Jesus didn’t promise them a rose garden. Not by any means. But he did promise that they’d still be fishermen of sorts. Only instead of catching fish, they’d catch people for God.

I often wish God’s call to me were as clear as the one the disciples received by the lakeshore. Before I went to seminary, I struggled with my calling. I thought I might want to become a psychologist instead of a minster, so I enrolled in a psychology class at the local community college and applied for a graduate studies program in counseling psychology at the University of Florida. In the end, I decided to go into the ministry instead. My wife Amelia and I hitched a U-Haul trailer to our 1974 Chevy Impala, loaded up our furniture and personal belongings, and drove from Florida to North Carolina where I enrolled in seminary. I’d like to tell you that making that leap of faith settled all doubt about my calling. It did not. I continued to struggle with the question of what God wanted me to be. A missionary? A pastor? A Navy chaplain? A college or seminary professor? I didn’t know. I’ve done all those things except for being a missionary. I’ve found good in all of them. I’ve sensed God’s blessing in all of them. But I’ve never heard a voice telling me, “This is the way, walk in it.”

One thing that God has been teaching me lately is the difference between being and doing. Who I am is more important that what I do. God calls everyone to follow him. For some that involves leaving everything and entering full-time ministry like the Jesuit missionaries in the movie Silence. For many following Jesus means being a faithful witness right where we are. No change of employment. No new address. The important thing is that we’re living for Jesus now – this day, in this moment.



Filed under devotionals

Finding God in All Things

bird in dust

“God reveals himself in all things through faith” according to Jean-Pierre de Caussade, author of The Sacrament of the Present Moment. Where do I find God in the blistering heat and choking dust of Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti—a place so remote and obscure most Americans have never heard of it? A few days ago as I was hurrying through a maze of metal containers which serve as offices, I saw something at my feet that made me stop in my tracks, literally. A pair of finches were hopping about carefree in the dirt, cocking their heads curiously this way and that. Their soft feathers, which seemed all one piece, were mostly graphite in color but with green highlights. Other colors glittered beneath the dusty grey like diamonds in the rough. I imagined them dipped in soot and if one could wash them off, they would sparkle bright rainbow colors. It was a sacred moment, stopping to look at those two little birds.

Jesus often used ordinary things to teach extraordinary truths: a sower in a field, a shepherd and his sheep, a woman searching for a lost coin, a mustard seed, and, yes, even birds. He infused everyday food and drink – bread and wine – with deep, theological significance: “This is my body . . .” “This is my blood . . .” The Incarnation itself is the greatest example of God using the ordinary (humanity) both to hide and reveal the extraordinary (divinity). De Caussade said, “God hides himself in order to raise our souls up to that perfect faith which will discover him under every kind of disguise.”

Where have you seen God lately? 

1 Comment

Filed under devotionals