I wonder if Simon Peter felt that way when Jesus asked him to “go back out to the deep waters and let down your nets.”(Luke 5)Simon and friends had worked hard all night.They were experienced fishermen.They knew their stuff… and yet…here was this carpenter telling them to go and do it again. I can imagine everyone’s reaction.They were probably tired and just wanted to go home and sleep. But, there was Peter saying, “Okay, because you said so.”
Recently,one of the LTC students asked me, “Teacher, what is the most difficult thing in ministry?”My first reaction was “Wow, which one do I choose!” As we talked, I realized that the student really wanted to talk about a specific cultural issue here.You see, in this culture, it is virtually impossible for a younger person to initiate anything.The younger’s job is to obey and carry out the wishes of the older without questions.There is such a great fear of insulting and offending the other that often people will not even ask for clarification.Fear leads to discouragement and then frustrations mount up and sooner or later there is either a conflict or paralysis sets in.
This student was struggling with how to honor this cultural value and still do what God was laying on his heart. (Both Biblical principles) He wanted to know how to protect himself from accomplishing nothing.
I don’t know why, but I thought of Peter and Jesus’ command to “go back and let down your nets.”There wasn’t a direct
promise of a big catch.He didn’t bargain with the promise of success.And yes…. while there was success,the catch
was not the Lord’s goal. It was simply the tool to get Peter where Jesus wanted him to be….on his knees,
emptied, broken, dependent and ready to listen.
As I looked into the face of this young man,I saw such a deep desire to serve God.I saw a fear of failure, a fear of regret, a fear of lost opportunities. So, I told him what I thought was the most difficult thing in ministry.
Quitting too soon.
I think too often we quit because we simply forget the goal. The goal is not the action.It is not the ministry, the program, the numbers, the response.It is not even success. Rather, the goal is to follow, listen, and obey Jesus Christ our Lord.
God knows how to orchestrate the events of our lives so that we can honor His principles and accomplish the very tasks He has assigned.He can make it happen! Guaranteed, it will not be our way, or even in our time. But, He will do it when we are ready to do what he says…..…simply because He said so.