This weekend I was really wrestling with the feeling that I am not up for the job I’m doing. I had all kinds of questions about how much stress is healthy and leads to growth and how much is unhealthy and leads to deterioration. It’s not as straight forward as setting boundaries for when I work and when I rest because sometimes when it’s time for me to study my brain won’t engage… and sometimes when I feel like I need rest I do actually have to be at that meeting.
Often people will say that if God calls you to do something he will give you the strength to accomplish the job. Thinking along these lines, if I look back at the last school I staffed, I see that it took a while to get the swing of things and until I
no images were found“got it,” I was really wrestling – similarly to how I am wrestling right now.
On one hand it gives me hope that there will be a tipping point when it stops feeling like there’s an ogre sitting on my chest. On the other hand because there is a lot more work with this school, it feels like maybe it’s just more than I would ever be able to handle…
Even now, as I wait to give a pre-lecture for the books of Thessalonians (which I will teach to the class next week), I feel the ogre and I feel my insides wanting to push their way out.
This morning to start class, our guest speaker (taking us through the gospel of Luke) had a bunch of verses on the board and asked us to just take one to meditate on for a few minutes. Looking at them, my eyes latched immediately onto 5:6 which says,
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. (Luke 5:4-6, ESV)
I actually started crying as I read these verses. Two things; one: abundance really only comes from God’s hands. Any increase in my abilities will come from him, any fruit from my labor will be by his power. Two: running like a hamster on a wheel (we toiled all night and took nothing!) will not produce what I’m here to produce.
What is so hard about this situation is that, as it goes, God’s timing for drawing the fish into our nets usually comes after the time when we think it should happen. I know that Peter’s response to the miracle was to confess himself to be a sinner, but I wonder if there was any part of him which asked, “Why did you wait until now? Why didn’t you give the fish when we were toiling?”
I think the answer to that question presents itself with very little thought. If Jesus had not waited, the disciples would have assumed that their efforts had brought about the provision.
Does that mean that next time they didn’t fish at the normal fishing time, but instead waited for Jesus to speak? Is that what we’re supposed to do?
What if before going out to work Peter had simply asked, “Jesus, what is the best use of this night?”
Before beginning this intensely busy season, it was my goal to be all about this question. I admit that I have been swayed by the pressure to toil. I have not been taking each day as it comes, but instead have been letting the week get on top of me before it ever begins. Stress then leads to toil, losing sleep, and wanting to hide away in my “free time.”
There are a lot of other factors at play, but because this verse spoke so loudly to me this morning, I want to be obedient. Jesus is with me in the boat and ready to fill my nets. May I listen for his voice to direct me when and where to let them down.