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Monday, October 18, 2010

Have Faith to Cast the Net One More Time

Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets" (Luke 5: 5 NIV).
For those of you who don't know me personally, I am currently running an online retail business as well as freelance writing for a living.  The income from these sorts of jobs can be sporadic, and this morning I woke up having one of my regularly-scheduled worry sessions (these usually come around the time bills arrive in the mail).

I can't help but feel that my line of work has a lot in common with fishing.  When you go fishing, you can have the best boat, the best fishing buddies, the best nets, and the best lures, but if the fish aren't coming, well, you're out of luck.  Similarly, I feel I've been flogging the waters in the best and most expert way I know to do, but I confess that lately the results have been...well...depressing.

This morning, God brought to mind the passage in Luke chapter 5 verses 1-11 when Jesus took Simon Peter and James and John on a little "fishing trip" on Lake Gennesaret (the Sea of Galilee).  I just wanted to share my thoughts on this passage with my readers today.

Now, I want you to imagine for a moment what was going through Simon Peter's head that morning.  He and his two partners were heading a fishing operation with two boats and a team of men to help.  It was clear that they had given up for the day, since they were working on cleaning their nets when Jesus walked up.  They were feeling distressed about the lack of fish that night, and that seems to indicate to me that the trouble the night before was not an isolated event.  How were they going to get paid?  Simon Peter was so deeply frustrated that he even complained to Jesus in front of the crowd that had gathered to hear Jesus preach!

They were worried.  That has been established.  I think most people have been able to empathize, at some point in their lives, with Simon Peter and his predicament.  But where did the worry come from?  I see that on a deeper level, the fishermen were upset because they couldn't, by their own power, change their circumstances, and they felt trapped.  They saw their own hands as their salvation, and this was out of their hands.

When Jesus came to visit them that morning, He was looking for disciples, but He didn't have to reveal His mission to them that way.  The lack of fish, followed by the abundant supply of fish, was God's way of proving to them that "[their] help comes from the Lord" (see Psalm 121: 1-4). They needed to be reminded, as I must need to be reminded, today, that God is the one who makes things happen.  Our efforts are meaningless if God is not in the work.  If we need anything, we must look to God, because He is the only One who really "makes things happen."  If we expect help to come from anywhere else, we are just fooling ourselves.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!"(Luke 5: 8).
When the men had hauled in their miraculous catch, I think Simon Peter realized that he had been guilty of accusing God in his heart of abandoning him.  Now he could see that God had shown up to help him that morning, despite the unfaithfulness in his heart.  He felt shame that he had abandoned God, and he was confessing his guilt.  Maybe he hadn't figured out just who Jesus was at that moment, but I get the feeling Simon Peter sensed the truth.

Then came the best part (Luke 5 verses 10 and 11).  Jesus didn't leave Simon Peter there, even though that was what Peter asked Him to do.  Jesus didn't take Peter on a road to financial prosperity and worldly success, either, but He did restore the broken fellowship between them--not just this once, either!  In this way, God proved to Simon Peter and James and John, in a very personal way, that He was in control, and, furthermore, that He was the kind of loving and generous God they could follow, because He was going to take care of their needs.

Some of us today may find ourselves flogging the waters in the middle of the night, like these poor fisherman did.  Today I feel God calling me to remind all of you (and myself, periodically) that we need to have faith that God is going to take care of everything.  As the Psalmist wrote, "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread," (Psalm 37: 25 NIV).  This is still being proven true every day.  Can we hold on until the morning?  More importantly, will we still recognize God when He shows up?  These are some tough questions to ponder.

I welcome your thoughts.  Until next time, stay savvy!

2 comments:

Kamal said...

Rachel, thank you. Your post today is amazing. It encouraged me. You have chosen the portion of the scripture that is so close to my heart as it shows the state of us all and also tells us how God uses our circumstances and our weaknesses to speak to us and to tell us that He loves us.
It is popular thinking that if you have a good work ethic and if you are disciplined, then there is nothing that you cannot achieve. I believe that this is so not true. When God wants to get our attention and wants to speak to us then good work ethic, a disciplined life and many other things simply fail. I am not qualifying that good work ethic or a disciplined life is bad but I am only saying that even these will fail us in our lives. You have put it so plainly.
“I see that on a deeper level, the fishermen were upset because they couldn't, by their own power, change their circumstances, and they felt trapped. They saw their own hands as their salvation, and this was out of their hands.”
There is another popular belief - “be sincere in what you believe.” It is almost seen with a sense of appreciation that if someone is sincere in what they believe then it’s great. The question of morality, God, motives and outcomes come secondary to the “sincerity” and I think here is where we forget that even if we do something very sincerely and if God is not in it then it is in vain. And I believe you have said this so clearly -
“Our efforts are meaningless if God is not in the work.”
You have brought a wonderful insight in this passage by sharing with us what Peter might be guilty of.
“When the men had hauled in their miraculous catch, I think Simon Peter realized that he had been guilty of accusing God in his heart of abandoning him.”
It is amazing. We too have dreams and desires and we use some methods to achieve them and when we are not getting close to where we want, we get frustrated and finally it comes out even though not heard by any ear but we can hear it and the voice within our hearts cries out – accusations against God. At such times we tend to find meaning in our pursuits and when we experience a chaos, we blame God, ourselves, family etc. This is a natural reaction by us all and we know God know about this and that He also cares what we say. The Bible says “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us [Romans 5:8].” God comes to show us who He is. And when He shows us Himself, we see ourselves and we too will cry out “Oh what a wretched sinner I am.” I heard it long ago what Ravi Zacharias said about God’s purity – “when we see God, we are not seeing the absence of impurity but the very presence of purity.” He is pure not because in Him there is no sin but He is pure to begin with.
Couple of more amazing words that you put together and here they are -
“Jesus didn't take Peter on a road to financial prosperity and worldly success, either, but He did restore the broken fellowship between them--not just this once, either!”
Finally what a wonderful thought –
“Can we hold on until the morning? More importantly, will we still recognize God when He shows up?”
Are we able to recognize Him when He shows up? Or are we so preoccupied with our own troubles that we are not recognizing our savior who came to rescue us from those same troubles.
As always I enjoyed your post. God bless.

Rachel M. said...

Thank you, Kamal! I actually read your comment twice just now. I think you brought out the issues I had only hinted at in this post. You summed it up well. Sometimes no amount of hard work will fix the problem, and no amount of sincerity can overcome God's purposes in the situation. Now it's just up to us to hold on. "He who stands firm to the end will be saved," (Matthew 24: 13 NIV).

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