August 25, 2012

A wasted life?

Last night I was in good spirits, but as I dropped off to sleep, thoughts about uselessness bounced around inside my head. I thought that I’ve not accomplished much for the Lord. Too drowsy to argue or defend myself, I fell asleep. This morning, those thoughts came back. 
How often have I been silent when I should have said something? How often have a babbled and wasted my words when I should have been quiet and listened? Who can add up these things? I answered them with “it’s up to the Lord” and “how can I really know?” 

Then I started reading Ezekiel and noted God’s commands to the prophet. First He said that if Ezekiel didn’t warn both sinners and the righteous and either died in their sin, their blood would be on his hands. I felt tensions coming back. Then He said that He would not allow him to speak to some and that unless God opened his mouth, Ezekiel would not be able to speak. I’d not noticed that before. Then, while those thoughts were still fresh, my devotions directed me to this passage. Jesus is teaching people by the seaside…
Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” (Luke 5:3–8)
At once, I thought that toil without Jesus is a night-long waste of time, but if He says to go and do it, or keep doing it, there will be results, far more than His disciples can even imagine or deal with.

After that huge fishing success, Peter realized and admitted his sinfulness, but the Bible does not offer anything specific. He may have been convicted of doing things without Jesus. He may also have had his priorities wrong. Whatever prompted this confession, he confessed it to the right person. Almost immediately, Jesus called him into a fruitful and world-changing ministry.

The key words in this passage are, “at thy word I will…” When Jesus asks, no matter what the command might be, there will be fruit. In this instance, Peter saw the results and labored to haul it aboard. Yet how many thousands, even millions have jumped into the net because of Peter? He wrote two epistles that are life-changing for those who read, believe and obey. Even the record of Peter’s life has had an impact on generations. 
Courage comes when we read of Peter walking on water or Peter preaching and teaching. 

His mistakes also affect us. He denied the Lord when the going got tough and often had his foot in his mouth. Once he fought with the Apostle Paul, yet even if the mistakes comfort me when I make them too, it is what he did after making them that spurs us on to do the same. Peter loved Jesus and, hit or miss, was determined to follow Him. 

The idea of a wasted and useless life could turn my heart inward and downward for the rest of my days, but the Word of the Lord comes again to instruct me. The Apostle Paul answered this threat to his usefulness with…
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. (1 Corinthians 4:3)
In the next few lines, he adds this:
Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. (1 Corinthians 4:5)
Someday everyone will know that which is now hidden, including what God did with our lives. We will also know those times we acted from spontaneous grace without even thinking why we did it. God will reveal the blessings we didn’t notice and the goodness that came from our small kindnesses and other responses to His Word. AND each person who said “at thy Word I will” will be commended.

Instead of trying to figure it out, or lamenting that I missed the boat so very often, I think I’ll try to obey all the time, and wait and see what He has to say about what is actually in my net, whether I can see it or not.

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