Monday, 31 December 2012

"If I want fish..."

"If I want fish, I can get fish."

For the past couple of months, I've been mulling over this great idea from Jeffrey R. Holland.  He spoke about the time after Jesus had died.  He imagined the apostles all looking at each other feeling slightly lost.  The man who had led them, walked with them, taught them, been the very purpose of their daily lives for the past three years, was suddenly gone.  The 10 remaining men stood around, probably slightly bewildered, and asked "what now?"  Peter, always the impetuous, always the passionate, must have felt this low as hard as he felt the highs of the previous years.  He may have shrugged his shoulders and said something to the effect of:

“Brethren, it has been a glorious three years. None of us could have imagined such a few short months ago the miracles we have seen and the divinity we have enjoyed. We have talked with, prayed with, and labored with the very Son of God Himself. We have walked with Him and wept with Him, and on the night of that horrible ending, no one wept more bitterly than I. But that is over. He has finished His work, and He has risen from the tomb. He has worked out His salvation and ours. So you ask, ‘What do we do now?’ I don’t know more to tell you than to return to your former life, rejoicing. I intend to ‘go a fishing.’” 

Three years after being asked to leave their fishing boats, Peter and six others returned to their former life.  After a night of catching nothing, the early morning hours bringing only empty nets and a feeling of failure, a voice called out to lower their nets on the other side of the boat.  The result was, in a manner similar to three years earlier, a catch too great for their nets to hold.  Immediately Peter recognized his Saviour, Jesus, standing on the shore, and once again Peter tossed himself overboard into the salty sea waves, too excited to wait for the boat to return.

Jesus, perhaps with a kind smile for his impetuous student and friend, probably helped Peter from the water, brushed sand from his sopping clothing, and led him to the fire to warm his soaking body.  He looked at Peter and inquired three times if Peter loved him, loved the message he had brought, loved the ministry more than fishing and boats and the sea.  At Peter's insistence that he did, Jesus might have said something like:

“Then Peter, why are you here? Why are we back on this same shore, by these same nets, having this same conversation? Wasn’t it obvious then and isn’t it obvious now that if I want fish, I can get fish? What I need, Peter, are disciples—and I need them forever. I need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs. I need someone to preach my gospel and defend my faith. I need someone who loves me, truly, truly loves me, and loves what our Father in Heaven has commissioned me to do. Ours is not a feeble message. It is not a fleeting task. It is not hapless; it is not hopeless; it is not to be consigned to the ash heap of history. It is the work of Almighty God, and it is to change the world. So, Peter, for the second and presumably the last time, I am asking you to leave all this and to go teach and testify, labor and serve loyally until the day in which they will do to you exactly what they did to me.”

How many times in my life do I feel this gentle rebuke coming in answer to my prayers?  How many times have I had the glow of testimony lit inside, only to let it flicker down to a lonely little flame, or maybe even just a dying ember?  How many times has my path been revealed to me by an omniscient God in heaven, only for me to stray into pointless selfish pursuits?  How many times have I followed my own inspiration instead of divine guidance?  Even at times when I have good intentions, when my plans are ones that seem to point down Godly paths, when I think I'm "fishing for fish that God wants," I seem to forget that "if God wants fish, he can get fish."  What he needs is me, my soul, my heart, my head, my passion.  What he needs is my will aligned with His will.  What he needs is for me to humbly inquire what it is He needs me to do here and now, and then do that.  Even if it isn't where I think my strength is.

My strength is working with teens.  But right now I've been asked to serve in Primary, which the children 18 months to 12 years.  It was a hard calling to accept, but I am loving it, and learning so much.  I have realized that there are many people who could be asked to do what I am doing.  Many people who could bring a love to these children, and teach them the gospel.  They can be affected and changed by many different people.  I am not serving here to change them; I am serving here to change me.  I am coming to know that because God is omnipotent, he doesn't need me to do anything.  Anything I am asked to do is for my own growth.  If God wants fish, he can get fish.  What he needs is a disciple in me, and He needs me forever.


Andrea said...

Hi Terri-Ann,
I found your blog via the Power of Moms book...we have some things in common I'm learning. :) I also have 4 kids--but a flip-flop of yours. I have 3 girls and then a boy. My husband and I will celebrate 10 years next week. It is comforting to be in a good place in a marriage and to have that stability. I feel the same way as you... (And my oldest is turing 8 on Monday!)
I used to be more in touch with the teenage crowd as I was a sec. ed teacher...but now as a stay at home mom I feel more at home with the younger kids. However, I'm serving in YW and I'm struggling to be truly excited about it! I'm working on it. So, thanks for sharing your thoughts. It gave me some food for thought. :)

Terri-Ann said...

Andrea - thanks for dropping in! It's so nice to hear from people who read the random thoughts that make their way out of my head. Just think how prepared you'll be when your oldest daughter becomes a young woman after serving in the YW program.