Monday, May 4, 2015

John 21:1-14 conclusion

We've learned so much already from this passage!
The next lesson here is this: Sometimes the answer is closer than you think!

The disciples needed to put the nets in where the fish were . . . the fish were not on the other side of the lake; they were just on the other side of the boat. Sometimes the answer is as close as our willingness to obey Jesus and to do what He is asking.

Do you remember the story in the Old Testament about a Syrian general, named Naaman? He awoke one day to see that leprosy was beginning to spread across his body. In those days, it was almost an immediate death sentence for this to happen; lepers were outcasts and were confined to certain areas, living out their remaining days in despair and pain.

His wife was served by a slave girl who had been taken captive in a battle against Israel. She said to Naaman's wife:

                        She said to her mistress, "If only my master would see the prophet
                        who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy. (II Kings 5:3)

So Naaman went to Elisha, the prophet, who did not even come of his house. He had his servant go out and tell this important general to bathe in the Jordan river -- to dip himself seven times. Naaman was furious! He felt doubly insulted -- not only the insult of the prophet not coming out to tell him, but also that he had to bathe in a river of Israel.

I expect that he wanted something more substantial. Something stupendous. Something miraculous.
Maybe he expected the prophet to come out and call on the name of the Lord God, perhaps wave his hand over the lesions, and then he would be cured.
So he stormed off in a rage and refused to do it. No obedience here. No submission.

One of his servants tried to reason with the general. He said, "If the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, "Wash and be cleansed!"
                      So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as
                      the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became
                      clean like that of a young boy. (II Kings 5:14)

The answer was much closer than he realized. It was humbling, and it did not make sense at the time, but it was the thing that he needed to do. Perhaps he thought that he had better water where he lived in Syria, but the answer was much closer than that.
If the disciples were going to get fish, they needed to put their nets where the fish were.
If we are going to receive the answer that God has for us, we are going to have to do what He says, and do it when and where He says!

Many of us pray for an answer to our problems, but when the answer comes, we don't like it. We already have it in our heads how God should solve our problem. We don't want to humble ourselves, and we don't want to look foolish. We may not accept what God is asking us to do because we want God to do it all -- we want Him to wave His hand and make a supernatural, exciting answer to our problem. If He asked us to do a great thing, sure, we'd do it. But not the small, humble thing.

But God is not asking us to do a great thing that will get lots of attention, He is only asking us to do the simple thing of obeying what he says, and do it consistently.  

I'm indebted to the vast resources of the internet for this illustration from Wade Hughes, Sr. He tells the story of a weak and sickly man.

                          His condition grew worse, but he could not afford a doctor.
                          He lived in the deep back woods in an old log cabin, and out in
                          front of his cabin was a huge boulder. One night he had a vision. God
                          told him to go out and push the massive rock in front of his home all
                          day long, day after day, until he told him to stop. The man got up early
                          in the morning, and with great excitement, he pushed on the rock as long
                          as he could. After a rest he pushed some more. The night vision was so
                          real that it inspired the man as he pushed against the rock. It gave him
                          meaning. Each day he pushed a little harder and a little longer. Day after
                          day he pushed. Days rolled into weeks, and weeks into months, as he
                          faithfully pushed against the rock. After 8 months of pushing the rock, the
                          man was getting tired of pushing the rock so much, and in his tiredness
                          he started to doubt his dream. He measured from his porch to the rock,
                          and after pushing the rock, he would measure to see how much he had
                          moved the rock. After two weeks of pushing and measuring, he realized
                          he had not moved the boulder a fraction of an inch. As a matter of fact,
                          the boulder was in the same place as when he started. The man was so
                          disappointed, because he saw his work had accomplished nothing. He was
                          tired and his dream seemed dashed upon the rock.He sat on his porch and
                          cried, because he had invested so much time for nothing. But as the sun
                          was setting in the west, Jesus came and sat down next to the man as he
                          was sitting on his porch.
                          He said, “Son, why are you so sad?” The man replied,
                         “Lord, You know how sick and weak I am, and then the vision you gave me
                          built up a false hope. I have pushed with all that was within me for many
                          months, and that old rock is right where it was when I started.” Jesus said
                          to him, “I never told you to move the rock, I told you to push against the
                          rock.” Jesus told the man to step in front of the mirror and look at himself.
                          As an act of obedience the man stepped in front of a mirror. He was
                          How could he have missed this? He had been so sickly and weak, and what
                          he saw in the mirror was a strong muscular man. He also realized that he
                          had not been coughing all night. It dawned on him that he had been feeling
                          better for months, and it was all because he had been pushing — not
                          moving — the rock. Then the man realized, that the plan of God was not
                          to change the position of the rock, but to change him. God’s plan was
                          not for the rock, but for him.

We need to understand God's plan. We must trust what He is saying to us.
Listen to God. Do what he says. Do the work of obedience. It is not nearly so important that the rocks in our lives be moved as it is for us to push against the rocks.

It is when we push against the rock that we become strong — whether the rock moves or not. It is when we obey and cast our net on the other side that the net is filled, and a way is opened up for deeper fellowship with Jesus. 


Belinda said...

I guess it's sometimes easier to believe that doing some great thing will be more effective than just obeying and trusting. I think we all look at others doing bigger, more obvious work for the Lord, and think we can't do that, so why even bother. But we just need to obey God in whatever small thing (or large) He commands us to do. It's all for His glory and it all pleases Him.

And I think it's easier to believe that God has indeed provided a miracle when it's a great, astounding thing. But God uses everything for His own good and purposes and even some small, seemingly unimportant thing can be His gift and His miracle. As you said, it comes down to humility.

Great post!

Cathy said...

We don't all have to do "big things" If we did, who would do the "little things"? If we were all out doing the executive or politician or speaker or seminar leader, or anything else that our world todays tells us women we should be doing, who would be at home to look after the children and grandchildren. Who would play with them, give them hugs and kisses, and assure them they are loved? Who,would teach them? who would model our Saviour to them? I think these are the big things, found in the day to day little things. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against women working outside the home. But I think our world has made our "work lives" the be all and end all, and our home lives with our children as somehow no where near as important, or as big.