Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Bag of Fish or Jesus

My husband preached a great sermon this morning from John 21. The gist of it was that we are all prone to oh-so-quickly give up on God and turn back to our own resources. Just as the disciples did. Jesus had told them what to do, and where to go, but they thought He wasn’t going to show up, so one of their leaders, an impetuous fellow named Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” The others said, “Yeah, sounds like a good idea.”

They fished for hours to no avail so when a man turns up on the shore and asks if they have any fish they all shout a resounding, “No!”

It’s when that man tells them to cast their net on the other side of their boat that one of them, the well-loved John, says, “Hey – uh – I think maybe it’s Jesus.”

To his credit, Peter wasted no more time with the fish – he leaped out of the boat and hurried to shore. Then Jesus, who was indeed the one speaking to them, tells them to bring some of the fish they’d just caught to the fire. An interesting statement, that. Jesus already had fish roasting over the coals, yet he tells them to bring what they had just caught with their own hands, under His direction.

There are a couple of lessons to learn here. One, guard against giving up on Jesus. He will come through, He’s never late, and He will always give us what we need to accomplish what He has in mind. Two, there’s a principle to learn from Peter and the disciples who followed his lead. We can so easily get caught up in striving to make a living - trying to make things work out the way we want – this crazy career as a writer, for instance – that we can lose sight of the One for whom we are working. But as Peter discovered, when Jesus shows up, the bag of fish is suddenly of no importance. Being with Jesus is all that matters.

And there’s a third principle to learn from this story. We can know that God intends to put us to work. He has given us skills – like the ability to catch fish – or to write – and He will use them to His own purposes. Part of that purpose is to teach us and bless us abundantly as we become a blessing to others. The disciples ate as much fish as they wanted that morning and had plenty left to sell. It was the fruit of their own labour but it was labour guided by their Lord, labour that taught them something about Him, labour that was indeed, life-giving.

The writing process can be something that is self-engrossing – just a way of life – or it can be a means to an end – a way to life as it was intended to be.

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