Tuesday, August 2, 2011

If You Say So

Are you willing?
How often do we respond immediately, "Yes" when asked to do something? Can you imagine giving your reasons for doubting but still responding, "I'll do it, if you say so"? As a mom of three teens, at first glance, "if you say so" sounds a bit sarcastic, but can it be a genuine, appropriately disciplined, right response? Let's take a deeper look.

When we are asked to do something, we can usually come up with a long list of reasons why we can not or even should not. Most of us - if not all- are frankly busier than we ought to be. Our schedules are bulging and our bank accounts are shrinking. Certainly, different life stages are more chaotic then others: after a new baby, moving, during an illness or injury, or right before a big event (like a party, wedding, trip). But if truth was told, and we got to openly examine each other's "to-do's" list, we could all easily identify several items that just don't belong there. It is also likely that we wouldn't want anyone to see our daily agenda because we already know some things we are involved in are not the best choices.

To be honest, whose business is it anyway how we live our life?

That  answer is simple - God. (God is after all that perfect Sunday School Church answer to every question, along with Jesus, which is one and the same.) But, let's look deeper at this simple answer - God.

To followers of Jesus, what we do, what we buy, what we listen to, what we say, what we wear, where we live, who we spend time with, how we do things, how we think about things, where we go... matters a lot to God! 

It is not that God is all bossy. He is not a shouting drill sergeant or a cold-hearted dictator. He is not an evil superior or a wicked master. Nor is he is not a controlling parent. Too often we have a warped view of what an all-knowing, all-powerful, supreme authority person would be like because we try to piece together ideas of people we have known, experienced or been taught about. God is best known by His Word.

In Luke 5, Jesus approaches Peter on the shores after a long night of fishing, that was an unsuccessful waste of time. Peter had not gotten a catch. He was tired, frustrated, and wanted nothing more of fishing at this point. But Jesus...

I can't help to pause. Isn't it always after we have failed, we have a wonderful opportunity for a "But Jesus..." moment. When we are at our end, finished with our own efforts, Jesus is about to begin.

So Jesus tells Peter to go back out into the water and fish AGAIN. You have to imagine Peter is reeling, ready to  unload of realistic excuses. I know I would be fully tired, and ready to let fly what I wanted to say. Listen to what Peter said:

But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” (Luke 5:5, NKJV)
Some of the new versions of Scripture use the phrase "if you say so" in place of "nevertheless" making Simon Peter's response sound like one of my teens. I am sure you will agree if any of our children replied, "Mom, I have already tried for a long time doing that, and it didn't work; nevertheless at your word I will do what you say" we would question our hearing.

Simon Peter in submission, in deference, in honor, in faith begins with "Master." In this one word it is clear he complete knew who Jesus was and who he was. By addressing Jesus as Master, he was admitting to be a slave to Jesus. For a Master, does not have simply followers. We must first come to Him in complete surrender as have slave, willing to do as He bids.This is a point that can't be skipped.We can't be a friend, an heir, a child, a vessel, a disciple, or a follower, until we first know Him as His slave. Many "Sunday Go To Church" people never were told about this. They prayed a prayer to be saved, and asked Jesus in their heart. It is a shock, even a repulsion, to think being a Christian means they have to die to themselves, their will, their wants... and never knowing God as Master, they distance themselves or even simply and suddenly walk away when their are confronted with this truth.

Then after Peter explained the evident situation, he said "nevertheless." What a powerhouse packed word! Nevertheless is a turning point word. It is coming to a free will decision that you will put aside your feelings, desires and wants. It is surrendering your previous direction. Nevertheless should be a key word in the vocabulary of every follower of Jesus, because "not my will but yours" thinking is what follows.

The next words Simon Peter spoke were "at your word" which is also paramount in the thinking of Jesus' followers. We live by faith, we walk by faith, and faith comes by the hearing of God's Word. The Bible is the lamp unto our feet and the light unto our path. His Words are truth, eternal, and good. In anytime of life, any moment, any day, that we find ourselves uncertain, questioning our direction, unclear of a choice, or worried about what we need to do, the answers we seek are found in God's Words. His Word is the User Guide Manual for life. The more we read, study, meditate and memorize the Bible, the more transformed we will be, because the Bible says we are transformed by the renewing of our mind with the Word. It is what shapes us, corrects us, instructs us, and encourages us.

We can never go wrong will saying to God, "at Your Word, I will." Moreover, it is the essence of what our every follower of Jesus' response to God should be.

God, I love you. I know you love me. Everything in me is exhausted. I have tried as hard as I can, and I have been working a long time with nothing to show for it; nevertheless at Your Word I will do what you say!

I believe God!
Of course, God, if you say so, I believe!

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