Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Gifts or the Giver: Postures for a new decade (part 2)

A brief series of personal reflections on how I feel God has been posturing me for this new decade. Nothing profound. Just an honest and vulnerable look at where I'm at and who God is revealing Himself to be to me.

God is using a story I recently read in Luke, chapter 5 to help me to evaluate my priorities. In fact, the conclusion of this story never ceases to startle me. The end of the story seems more amazing to me than the great catch of fish that happens in the middle. It all begins with Jesus telling Peter to put out into deep water to let down his nets for a catch. Peter protests but complies. The nets then fill with fish to the point of breaking, and Peter calls for help to haul in the fish. Peter then falls down in awe before Jesus. Then Jesus says that from now on Peter will be catching men. Then it says Peter, James and John brought their boats in to land -- and here's the part that startles me -- "they left everything and followed him" (Luke 5:11). All those fish! They just walked away from a bonanza that they'd probably always dreamed of. All they'd ever known was catching fish, and they knew what a net full of fish would fetch in the market. And they'd finally hit the jackpot! But they just walked away from the whole catch. They wanted to be with Jesus far more than they wanted the great gift He had just given them.

Now I'm afraid that the reason I find that conclusion so startling is because it doesn't jive with my natural sensibilities. I think, why would they do that? At least sell the fish first! And I'm sure that that means there must be things in this world that I'd rather not walk away from if Jesus asked me to. I have to ask myself, would I do the same thing? What if I applied this to something important to me? What have I spent years seeking after, and what have I put a great deal of value in when I've found it? If Jesus gave me a sudden and bountiful supply of that something, but then asked me to turn my back on it in order to follow Him, would I do so without hesitation? I believe I'd only be able to if I were as awestruck with Jesus as the first disciples were.

But I need to make this more personal in order to properly evaluate my heart. What if Jesus led me to a garage-full of old 1st-edition, mint condition, used books that was being sold by its owner, $1 for the entire lot of them?! Then what if -- as Jesus began walking away -- He said that from now on I'd be collecting souls instead of books? Would I want to follow Him? Would I leave behind that garage full of books to follow Him? I believe I would. But I wonder if I'd be looking over my shoulder at the great goldmine I was leaving behind more than looking forward in awe at the One I'd chosen to follow.

I'm conscious of many material things in this world competing for my affections. Has that left me too often focused on some great catch of a legitimate earthly pursuit that's captured my passions? As I get excited from time to time, what does it look like I value most to the casual observer? Is my focus on the things I'd love for God to suddenly drop into my hands, or on the only One who is truly capable of satisfying my soul?

As I begin this new decade, I desperately need to see that all those fish, and all those books, and any other pursuit of this world that can get me excited are of absolutely no significance compared to knowing the One who is clearly capable of filling my life with many good things -- but who would rather fill me with Himself. In 2010, I want to see Jesus in a way that makes any other pursuit seem pale. And as I seek Him, may He fill me with such awe, that I'd give up anything to live for Him.

© 2010 by Ken Peters

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