[ The Calling of Matthew ] As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. ~Matthew 9:9
Matthew the tax collector (yes a disciple of Jesus worked for the IRS) just up and left his job to follow Jesus? Out of the blue? Just because this bearded man in sandles said, “follow me” ? Was that all there was to it?
No, emphatically NO!
Matthew was the tax collector at Capernaum, a great gig if you’re a despised Jewish tax collector back in the day.
He had a Roman tax collecting franchise… and he made his money by charging as many taxes as he could on those in one of the larger commercial frontier towns of the day.
Matthew might not have been well liked, but financially he was raking it in, and yet he packed it in to follow Jesus?
Following God is often unexplainable to those viewing the following from the outside in.
My wife and I had already done the unexplainable when we opened a Cupcakery in little Franklin, PA, and gave up my wife’s $40,000 teacher salary. Many thought we were crazy to do that. However, the business flourished for almost 2 years, doing far better than we could have imagined!
In June of 2012 my wife told me she wanted to sell that business and move….. to Pittsburgh.
When you live a life unto God it means many forces will come against you. You see the evil that resides in this world doesn’t want the good to prevail.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
The business was succeeding in ways we’d never envisioned. People were finding peace in our shop. People were finding faith in our shop….. Not to mention God inspired cupcakes.
My wife found weariness. Those who own a small business understand! There are so many energy draining stresses. Responsibilities, for this, that and the other thing!
No time for family. She was being attacked… And much to people’s surprise we put the business up for sale.
As I mentioned in Part I and Part II, The journey we as followers are on is to bring glory to God, and that journey of faith is a relationship that builds more faith, more often than not, accomplished by means against conventional wisdom.
I have to say, I did not see any wisdom in selling our business and moving, but then again I am a blooming idiot!
Matthew left his job, life as he knew it, to follow Jesus. He didn’t leave his world on a whim. He knew Jesus. He’d have heard of Jesus activities in and around Capernaum. Probably he heard Jesus speak. He was the tax collector after all…. He knew people’s business!
Matthew had a relationship with Jesus. He was growing in faith prior to the call, and in front of his colleagues He got up and left to follow Him. This brought glory to Jesus as later we see….
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.
MATTHEW 9:10 (NIV)
Matthew followed Jesus, he obeyed the call to follow Him. AND that willingness brought glory to God by drawing others to His presence. I’m sure it didn’t make sense to many of Matthew’s fellow tax collectors, but it drew their attention to Jesus!
My wife had been feeling an uneasiness in her spirit and had been experiencing struggle in the business and she felt God calling us to move with Him in another direction.
I on the other hand had at least 6 months until I could finally retire and I wanted to wait till then, that would make the most sense! Plus we had to sell two houses (her parents lived by and they would be moving with us), plus a business in a very unfriendly market!
Our God is not unknown, you can know Him and he wants to be known! In the book Judges, Gideon put out a fleece….testing God…….
36 Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised— 37 look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.”38 And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.
39 Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.” 40 That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.
This fleece thing may sound…… CRAZY !!!! to non believers, but not to a man of faith like Gideon. He knew God’s voice. Gideon’s request was answered and he recognized God giving him the ok to move forward.
In a sense I put out a fleece too. Not that I was as righteous as Gideon, I fully expected failure when I agreed to put our house and the business up for sale, and my in-laws put their house up for sale. No way all 3 would sell in time for us to make it to the Pittsburgh area for the start of the school year! That was the deal with Michal if all 3 sell we’ll move otherwise we stay put!
So with confidence I went ahead knowing in 6 months I would retire still residing in Franklin, PA. The 1st showing of our house was on Monday June 24th, We had an agreement that evening. My in-laws sold their house the same day, without even putting it on the market. The business took a month to sell!
Yoi and double yoi! ~ Myron Cope
We were moving to Cranberry Township, before I could even quote the great Myron Cope!
I shoulda known better than to test God. But, I did and He once again answered our prayers for guidance. We’d asked God for a clear sign that we were to move. The houses selling and business selling weren’t the only sign. The people buying our business were believers and were looking to start a bakery for 18 months, exactly the same amount of time we had been in business. Just before they came forward our dear employee Tracy had said to us, “Perhaps you were just supposed to start the business for someone else”. …”Hmm?!?!”
Also we needed a place to live upon moving to Cranberry, but no places were available. We needed to rent a 3 bedroom apartment that allowed pets. Two weeks before our desired move date I emailed an apartment complex still hoping to get in. The next day they emailed back advising they had no vacancies. Ten minutes after they emailed us, my wife not knowing I had contacted them called them by phone. In the interim of the apartments emailing us the no vacancy message, a vacancy had opened and they were able to fill it upon my wife’s call. Not just any vacancy but the exact style of apartment we needed.
When you have a relationship with the very maker of Heaven and Earth you don’t mind one iota following Him when he says, “come along mister”! He’s in charges, He has it ALL under control!
I’m certain Matthew had a relationship with Jesus before taking off. I’m sure he’d already learned to trust, and as He is believed to have been Martyred for Christ, I’m sure He’d decided where God leads him he would go no matter the cost. He knew It would bring glory to God and he concluded that He could trust God….. no matter the out come.
The trip to Cranberry may or may not be our final destination. I’m not sure what our purposes are here yet either, although I’m soon to resume playing on a worship team at our new church and just this day was offered a job as School Resource Officer (hmmmm?!?!?). But God is faithful and my fears of moving, back in June, have been replaced with a relief that I had enough faith to follow His lead. For, Life is truly an adventure when we trust in our Loving God! No matter what, it’ll be ok, …..no matter what. And it’ll be unexplainable apart from God!
Interesting how God gives you what you ask for….. Remember we asked for our lives to be unexplainable apart from God? He sure has abliged!
Thought to ponder as you journey today; Is your relationship with God close enough that you recognize His call, and do you trust Him enough to follow it? Wouldn’t it be great if your life wasn’t humdrum explainable but Unexplainable Apart From God!?!?!? Make that choice today and live the grandest of adventures!