Smokejumpers are wildland firefighters who parachute in to extinguish forest fires. These elite firefighters hit the ground with the needed tools—axes, saws, shovels, and twenty-pound packs. Sometimes, the firefighters need to jettison their equipment and run for their lives without all the extra weight, but that is hard for them to do. Dropping your equipment means more than disregarding your instincts. It means admitting failure and shedding part of your identity. Here’s how organizational psychologist Karl Weick explained it:
“Fires are not fought with bodies and bare hands, they are fought with tools that are often distinctive trademarks of firefighters. They are the firefighter’s reason for being deployed in the first place. . . Dropping one’s tools creates an existential crisis. Without my tools, who am I?”
Sometimes, a fresh start calls for leaving behind the things that were our identity. That’s what happened to a man Jesus called from a tax booth.
As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
The Jews despised tax collectors as much as they did the Romans. Rome was a foreign empire taxing them into oblivion. Tax collectors were traitors, unprincipled Jews who worked for Rome and pocketed the profits for personal gain. Many were very wealthy and had their identity tied to money. But when Jesus called Matthew, he got up, left everything, and followed Jesus.
The calling of Matthew teaches us an important lesson: Jesus meets us right where we are and calls us from our sin. A fresh start doesn’t mean you must clean yourself up to follow Jesus. You can’t. Jesus meets us where we are and says, “Follow me.” Right where you are—in your doubt, in your skepticism, in your addiction, in your lethargy, in your materialism, in your self-centeredness, in your adultery, in your brokenness, in your past identity—Jesus meets you right where you are! He forgives, restores, and gives you a fresh start. Are you ready to drop the stuff of the past and move forward with Jesus?
Lord Jesus, thank you for coming to me when I was sitting in my booth of rebellion. Thank you for your work on the cross that paid the penalty for my sin. Thank you for forgiveness that makes me a new creation. Thank you for placing me in a personal relationship with the Father. Thank you for giving me the Holy Spirit, who empowers me to live a life of obedience. Thank you for calling me to follow you! Amen.
 Adam Grant, Think Again (Viking, 2021), 7.