What if I don’t want to do what I know I’m supposed to do? What if I do it but my attitude is terrible about doing it? What does God think of that?
Something similar was asked of me recently. I’ve thought a lot about that question and searched the scriptures to find the answer. While there is a ton to be studied on obedience, I want to take us to the shores of Gennesaret where we find some fishermen cleaning their nets after pulling an all-night fishing expedition with nothing to show for it. Let’s walk through the story in Luke chapter 5 together…
1One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets 3He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
Imagine Simon Peter’s surprise when Jesus went from teaching the crowd to telling him how to fish. Not asking mind you. Telling. How could a carpenter give these kinds of commands to a professional fisherman? It made no sense all. These men didn’t fish during the day. They went out in the cool of the night when the fish would come to the surface. And they had just come in from an all-nighter and the only things to clean were empty nets!
I imagine they were tired and maybe even a little hangry that this guy, (a carpenter for goodness sake!) would tell them how to do their job! How annoying would that be when all you want to do is go home and go to bed? Jesus had some nerve!
But that’s what putting out in the deep is really.
It’s doing the thing he tells you to do when it makes no sense.
It’s being obedient when you’re tired and aggravated and just want to take your empty nets and go home.
It’s getting back in the boat, rowing out to the deep and trying again.
It’s trusting that Jesus knows more about your situation than you do…even though you’re living it, parenting them, working at it, struggling with it…because he’s more than just a carpenter.
Simon Peter got it…
5Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
Can’t you just hear his shoulders slump in defeat?
Doesn’t mean he necessarily wanted to. Doesn’t mean he didn’t have doubts…he knew these waters better than anyone. Doesn’t mean he didn’t let out a heavy sigh. Or have a little ‘tude. Or a little eye roll to the heavens. Doesn’t mean he didn’t wonder why. Doesn’t mean he wasn’t annoyed at having to go back out.
But because you say so…
You see, Simon had spent some time with Jesus, had seen him in action. Luke tells us in chapter four that Jesus was even staying at Simon’s house and healed his mother-in-law. In fact, Jesus also pulled an all-nighter, one that was a bit more successful than Simon’s fishing crew. (Luke 4:38-44)
Simon had seen enough of this carpenter to know he needed to listen when he told him to do something. Even when it made no sense. Even when he was exhausted. Even when he was discouraged. Even when. This Carpenter turned sudden fisherman could be trusted.
6When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
Obedience brings abundance. Not only did they catch some fish, they caught so many their boat began to sink! This is the graciousness of God. We may not net fish in our obedience but there are things to be caught. Our abundance may come by way of complete joy like Jesus talks about in John 15:9-11. There’s an abundance of peace when you know you’ve done the thing that was asked of you…even if you did it begrudgingly. That’s Grace.
8When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Obedience brings humility. Remember the story of me walking into my rebel daughters’ messy room and feeling the Holy Spirit say to clean it up for her? (Saving Face or Amazing Grace? ) I didn’t want to. I was mad and worn out. But I did it. Looking back I can see that that act of obedience, even with a shoulder slump and eye roll, was the pivotal moment of the tides changing and us getting our daughter back. To think if I hadn’t listened simply because I didn’t want to or because it made no sense!
That’s Amazing Grace. Humbling Grace.
There’s a definite humility knowing the Lord sees us struggle in our obedience to him..for whatever reason…and yet blesses us when we do. That’s the love of an incredible Dad!!
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
Obedience brings others to him. People are watching. When you do the hard thing out of obedience to the One you love and trust, others notice. They see you being tired, angry, hurt, forlorn, afraid, aggravated, grumpy and know that the last thing you want to do is pray for that person or forgive them. When you know by being obedient to God it may mean the loss of friendships or a job or a promotion but you obey anyhow. They see how you’ve been treated or your kid has been treated and yet you obey your Father because you know that this Carpenter knows way more about your circumstances than you ever could.
Sometimes Jesus asks us to put out into deep water. “Deep” is relative if you’re afraid of the water. If you’re afraid to trust the One is who is doing the asking.
You’ll become fishers of men because they will want to meet this Man you’re so crazy about that you’ll put out in the deep just because He said so…no matter the cost. No matter the risk.
So you trust and obey.
For there’s no other way.
I’ll leave you to finish that old tune…
Fiercely for YOU!