Saturday, May 30, 2015

Back to the Same Thing

In John 21, Peter and other disciples were in Galilee. Peter decided to go fishing and the others join him. All night long, they fish and catch nothing.

Jesus called to them from the shore. (They didn't recognize Him.) Jesus said to put the nets on the other side of the boat. They caught a netful of fish.

I'm sure you know the rest of the story. Peter swam to shore after John said the man was Jesus. The others came in the boat, bringing all those fish. Jesus was cooking breakfast for the men. They ate together. Jesus restored Peter by asking him, "Do you love Me?" three times.

There's a lot in this Bible passage, a lot to digest and learn from. But one thing has been sticking with me about this passage, something that I haven't pondered a lot before.

Peter was sitting around and decided to go back to what he had done before. He chose to do this...after seeing the empty tomb and the risen Christ. He went back to fishing. Was he going backward? Going back to what he knew when things had taken an unexpected turn? Did he think his ministry was over?

As I thought about this, I realized something else. He was unsuccessful in going back. He caught nothing all night. The only time he caught fish was when he listened to Jesus.


Lately I've been trying to figure out what to do. I sometimes think I need to go back to some things that worked for me in the past. I try some of the "old" ways, not sinful or wrong ways, but things that were successful in the past.

But those things won't work for me if Jesus isn't in it. Success = following God and His way. As I think and wonder about what to do, I must be willing to let go of those easy, fall-back things. I'll come up empty every time.

Easy answers are so often my way. We must listen and follow God's way. And that means moving forward into new, uncharted territory.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Not a Formula

My pastor said something this week that really resonated with me: You cannot reduce God down to a formula. We do not have faith in a formula but in a person. 

I think this is what I've been trying to do lately. I have finished my degree. I've done other "steps" as I see them appear. Now I should get the result I want.

This plus that plus the other thing equals my expected result.

But that's not God. God works in His own way and at His own time. He is not linear. He is God.

My anxiety has been climbing in recent days. I think it's because I see or hear of classmates getting jobs or moving on to the next stage. People ask me about my own future steps.

And I don't see anything changing yet. Still waiting....

When I look back at Scripture, I see people in a waiting mode. Moses spent 40 years as a shepherd in the wilderness. I wonder if at year 2 or year 10 or year 25, Moses thought: "Okay. I'm ready to move on. This sheep-watching has been interesting and rewarding but I'm ready for the next stage."

Joseph spent a long while in an Egyptian prison. At one point, he saw what he thought was the way out. "Remember me when you are back with Pharaoh," he told the cupbearer after interpreting a dream. The man said he would, but forgot him for 3 years.

God is not a formula or a checklist. "I did this and did that. I went here. I waited there. I herded sheep. I was faithful even in prison. Now I'll get my due."

Not the way God works.

And my due is nothing but death. I don't deserve anything that I have already received from God. And continue to receive. God continues to bless. Why do I feel restless or discontent? Why do I focus on what hasn't happened rather than what has?

I am truly grateful for what God has given us. He has continued to show us His faithfulness and blessing. I'm sure in ways that I don't even see. That's where I need to rest. I need to keep working where God has led me at this point.

I will trust the person and stop trying to find the formula.