walk in the word
Category: Problems, Relying on God, Spiritual Life
“Peter said to them, ‘I am going fishing.’ They said to him, ‘We will go with you.’ . . . but that night they caught nothing.” John 21:3
There are a number of times in your life when you really need the Lord. Nothing else is going to make it. Relationships have adjusted in such a way; economics are as they are; health is what you hoped it would never be; or some circumstances have come around the corner and more clearly than you’ve seen it maybe ever, and certainly for a long time, what you desperately need is a fresh touch from the Lord in your life.
That’s the situation in which the disciples found themselves in John 21, one of my favorite passages in the Bible. They had lived with Jesus for three years. They heard Him teach; they experienced the miracles; they saw Him crucified and buried. Now He was gone. They had left Jerusalem and gone back home, back to the Sea of Galilee. They were confused, unaware of their mission, and unsure of their loyalties. They felt abandoned, even rejected.
They were in-between.
They were without the Savior who had been everything to them and also without the Holy Spirit who had been promised to take His place. They were at the end. Here they were, sitting around asking themselves, “What are we gonna do now?” In John 21:3, “Peter says to them, ‘I’m going fishing.” He couldn’t take it anymore. He was a man of action. And so he gets up and off he goes.
Too often the first thing we do when we’re feeling destitute is we look for a fleshly solution. Like Peter we say, “I don’t have to take this. I’ll quit my job.” “If God won’t do this, I’ll do it myself.” “If God won’t heal this relationship, I’ll end it.” “I’m not gonna keep spinning my wheels.” And off we go to deal with something when God’s message was clearly, “Wait.” We go out in our own strength to get it done.
May I speak the Lord’s words into your life? All the effort you’ve been extending to fix your family or resolve some situation is not yielding very much, is it? The Lord wants so much to hear us say, “Forgive me, Lord. I felt I was so right. I felt I was taking action! I see now it was my flesh and not my spirit. It wasn’t me and You, Lord; it was just me.”
God wants to reveal the futility of our efforts apart from Him.
We can’t make it without Him. Do you need to say that? “Lord, I can’t make it without Your help. I can’t make it without walking with You. I can’t make it without our relationship growing.”
Sometimes it’s not easy to know if you’re acting in your strength or in God’s strength. Here are some tell-tale signs:
#1 I know I’m in my own strength when I haven’t been spending much time alone with the Lord. Have three, four, five, six days gone by in the last six months when you didn’t open your Bible and didn’t spend time in personal prayer? That’s not an uncommon thing. We get into those dry places and the first thing we do is give up on the spiritual disciplines that yield that partnership with God and we find ourselves in our strength.
#2 I know I’m in my own strength when I’m tired all the time. I go to bed, I’m tired. I get up, I’m still tired. I go to work exhausted. I come home worse. I lay around on the couch all night and vegetate, go to bed early, wake up—exhausted!
#3 I know I’m in my own strength when little things put me over the edge. Going and going and striving and striving. And all of a sudden I’m rushing out the door and I’m tying my shoe and I break my lace and I curse out loud. “What is wrong with me? Why am I on the edge so much right now?” Answer: I’m in my own strength.
#4 I know I’m in my own strength when I dream of a different life. I find myself daydreaming. “Man, I should move to California. What am I doing here?” And I find myself wondering, “What if I had married someone different? How can I get out of this situation?” Listen, that’s not how God wants His children to feel. The steps of a good man and a good woman are ordered by the Lord.
#5 I know I’m in my own strength when I have no victory over temptation. “Man, I am a weakling! If I find myself alone in this situation, I can’t help but succumb to this temptation.” I don’t know what your struggle is. Maybe it’s worry and you’re just spending too many days just spinning your wheels. “What’s coming? What’s up ahead? What’s gonna happen to me? Will I be OK?” You keep stirring this pot. You’re in your own strength.
Here’s a good summary.
#6 I know I’m in my own strength when I don’t have any joy. “Man, I hate it when people say funny stuff when I have my joy and they’re all laughing. “What is wrong with me? Why am I on the edge so much?” I know I’m in my own strength when little things send me over the cliff.
We learn so much about the Lord by seeing how He interacts with the disciples in John 21. You’ll want to read the whole chapter to fully picture it. That same Savior who stood on that shore that day would reach out to you and me and say, “Can we have a fresh new thing? Can we work on this together? Must you always strive in your own strength? Will you give this thing that troubles your heart to Me?”
Hopefully He hears from our hearts, this answer, “Yes, Lord. I’m gonna do what You say without question. I’m gonna come to You as soon as possible. I’m willing to do this in Your strength. Please show me how.”
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