"So when they had brought their boats to land they forsook all and followed Him."
There is really only one requirement to following Jesus, but it is the most difficult thing that you will ever do. It involves doing two things simultaneously, because you truly can't do the one without the other. God's requirement to be one of His followers is that we forsake everything else and follow Him only. It is impossible to simply forsake all and not follow Him. If you were to try that, you would be left empty and eventually you would succumb to the pressures of this world. It is also impossible to follow Christ and still be hanging on to the "security" of our own pleasures and comfort.
When Jesus came to His future disciples, He knew that before they could follow Him they would have to lay down the things that they felt were most important in their lives. These men had a comfort zone like all of us. Their comfort zone was being out on the water with the sea air blowing in their faces and the smell of fresh fish in their nostrils. This was not just a sport of pleasure; it was their livelihood. They knew what they were doing, and they were good at it. It consumed them day and night. Most of us have certain areas of our lives that while they may not always be easy we are comfortable with them. We have grown to be very comfortable with certain relationships, tasks, and goals. We have figured out which direction our life is headed in, and we are fine with that. We just don't want anything to rock the boat. What we must realize is that Jesus must do exactly that in order to get us to see how much we need Him!
As far as a personal testimony, I can relate very well to this. I had much of my life planned out and pretty much told God that this is the way it is going to be. Immediately after college God began to mess up my plans on a regular basis. When He did call me to forsake all, I would cling to something that made me comfortable because the thought of not being in some sort of control was terrifying. I assumed that as long as I was in some sort of ministry God should be pleased with that. Finally, I found myself out of the ministry, unemployed, married, and with two little girls. I had at that point absolutely no control of my life. I look back and I think that God looked down at me and with mercy, grace, and love in His eyes He smiled. Because He knew that I would either now follow Him completely or abandon Him. Thankfully, I chose to follow Him. He has rocked my boat many times since then. He has taken everything that I am comfortable with and thrown it overboard and asked me if I am still willing to follow Him. I have lost possessions, family, and friends for the sake of the call. There have been times where I was hurt, because I thought that I was being abandoned only to find out that it was God stripping away those things that I held on to too tightly. Each time I have had a decision to make. Do I hang on or let go? However difficult it might be, the only choice that will really profit my life in the long run is to let go.
What are you refusing to forsake that is keeping you from being the child of God that you need to be? Is it something in the past? Is it pride, embarrassment, or shame? Is there some sin that clings to you like barnacles on the hull of a boat? Maybe you have some relationships that you cannot imagine doing without, but God is calling you to let those things go for His sake. Those fishing vessels meant everything to these disciples, but they did not mean as much as what Jesus offered to them.
May you forsake all and follow Christ today!