I read this morning in John 20 about how the disciples reacted to Jesus’ resurrection. They were pretty freaked out and amazed. Thomas said he would not believe unless he touched the nail scars. Then the Bible says that Jesus appeared again to them after eight days. Thomas got his chance to touch the scars! But instead simply worshiped, “My Lord and My God!”
The thing that stood out to me was the “after eight days” part. They were incredibly amazed and finally understood what Jesus had meant when He predicted His resurrection. But now they’ve got to learn to walk in an entirely new dimension. Before Jesus death and resurrection that lived and labored “by sight”. Now they are being weaned from sight-living. Very shortly they will see Him no more in the physical. Nobody enjoys being weaned…from anything.
So what did they do? They went back to fishing. They could do that by sight. Or at least they used to be able to! These guys fished all night and caught nothing. They were bringing their boats back toward the shore when they saw a man on the shore cooking with a small fire. At first they didn’t recognize it was Jesus – that is, until He spoke them. Then they recognized Him. He told them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. They obeyed Him and caught such a great catch that they could not lift the nets and actually had to drag them to the shore. This story is so real and so ripe with leadership lessons.
1. There is a tendency to revert back to the familiar in seasons of dryness, turmoil, or transition. This we can do without faith, without having to wait on the Lord, without fresh revelation.
2. There may be nostalgia in trying to live in the memories of the past, but there’s no power or life in it. Most Christians live on the fumes of yesterday’s fruitfulness. We remember what it felt like to really walk with God, to live on the edge with Him. Somehow we’ve not kept up, though. Just listen to our testimonies. So few of them are truly contemporary.
3. We need to locate Jesus in every new season of life and ministry. He may be on the shore cooking fish. He may be asleep in the bow of the boat. He may be walking on the water. He may be speaking to us in prayer. He may be present in the voice of correction from a friend. There’s no substitute for locating him…with the eyes of faith.
4. Today’s fruitfulness and provision will flow out of fresh encounters with Jesus. And these encounters with Jesus will require faith and obedience today. There is no substitute for revelation and obedience.
Finally, a word about how worship fits into this. Have you ever considered that the same Lord who commanded the net-breaking school of fish to attack the disciple’s nets had all night before kept the fish scattered and away from their nets? I believe there were two miracles in this story! The first involved His moving the fish out of their path. Yep, I think it was a set up. You have to see this!
He had scattered the fish so that the fishermen would find Him first. So we learn a new priority in life and ministry. Seek Him first. Find Him today and you’ll find all you need to go forward. Fail to recognize Him in this season of your life and ministry and you will be forced to find other sources and resources. And there are many substitutes, poor ones, though.
Beloved, He is there just now. Perhaps you didn’t recognize Him today. You thought He was the gardener. You thought He was a stranger on the beach. Stop what you’re doing just now. Take a few moments and acknowledge Him, even if you don’t perceive His voice or presence. Be still and know that He is God. There He is. There’s that sense of peace that comes when the Lord is in control. His peace is His presence! He is the Prince of peace. He rules in that realm. Wait on the Lord and your strength shall be renewed. But don’t require Him to submit to the familiar.
He just might be doing a new thing today. There are glorious aspects of His character and power that we haven’t begun to recognize yet. He might have to nudge us out of the nest before we are ready to perceive it.