Wednesday, March 30, 2016

McGyvering Our Faith

By Allen White

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

 “No,” they answered.

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. John 21:4-14

Years ago, I ran the children’s ministry at the church I served at in California. (I also had adult ministries and led worship – but we’re not going to go there. When a church starts out small, you grow with it.)

Like every other children’s pastor on the planet, I had a regular need for new teachers to replace the exhausted ones. In fact, one teacher put it this way, “Now that I’m in the sixth year of my one year commitment, I was wondering if I could take a break?” I couldn’t really accuse her of being unfaithful. (I hope you understand that this is a bit tongue in cheek.)

My usual process of recruiting new teachers involved a great deal of thinking and a greater amount of worry. What if I don’t find any teachers? What if I have to teach all of the kids myself? What if in the process of keeping this plate spinning, my other plates stop spinning?

I would think about all of the adults in our church. Then, I would think about why they would turn me down. Then, I would think about anybody who was relatively new to the church and might take my call. Then, I would worry some more.

After I had approached my list of “usual suspects,” I would face a certain number of rejections – often 100 percent. I would consider quitting my job. “What did hotel desk clerks make these days?”

I would fantasize about a church where volunteers lined up at my door – where their constant obsession was God’s calling on their life and other than that they had relatively no life – but then, I would wake up and realize that no one else was probably like me. Then, I would finally reach the end of my horded resources or lack thereof.

As a last resort, I would pray and ask God to give me the two or so teachers that I needed. And, He always came through. Within days all of the children had loving, dedicated teachers, and the stress was gone.

Why did I put myself through that over and over again? Why didn’t I just seek Jesus first? Well, I am actually that dumb at times.

The disciples had been successful enough as fishermen to actually make a living. After a night of fishing, they had caught nothing. They were at the end of their rope. The Kingdom of God didn’t seem to pan out, and now fishing became unreliable as well. But, here’s what they didn’t understand – if Jesus isn’t in it, even success is a failure.

Sure we can “McGyver” our lives for a while, but bailing wire and duct tape can only take us so far. If we only attempt what we can manage, then don’t be surprised if nothing supernatural takes place. If the natural is working, then the supernatural is unnecessary.

If we believe that outcomes are up to us, then we need to dethrone ourselves as the master of the universe and allow God to take His proper place in our lives. It’s hard to be in need and not control the means. But, for the disciples on that day a miraculous catch brought in with miraculous nets gave them one more reason to trust in Jesus.

What are you worried about right now? They say that if you think about something three or more times a day, then you’re worried about it. What is that worry? What do you feel that you must accomplish on your own? What is making you lose sleep at night? Isn’t it time to give that over to God?

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