When someone meets or exceeds our expectations time and time again over a long period of time we have confidence that person will always meet our expectations. Here’s an example. Clayton Kershaw is a starting picture for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has enjoyed a great deal of success nearly every time that he pitches during the regular season. If you are a teammate of hos or fan of the Dodgers when Clayton pitches you are confident that he will pitch well enough for the Dodgers to have a very good chance of winning the game.
This same Clayton Kershaw, for some reason, has problems pitching well in the postseason. When he pitches in the playoffs his teammates and Dodgers fans are less confident but hope that he pitches well enough for the Dodgers to win the game.
As Clayton gets older and his physical skills diminish he may not be able to pitch as well as he did in the past. As this happens more and more frequently his teammates and Dodgers fans will have less and less confidence in him because he is no longer able to pitch as well as he did in the past.
The opposite is true with God. He never changes. His power, mercy, and love never diminish. We can always have confidence that what God has said, He'll do...He will do God never changes so if we lose confidence in Him it’s because something other then Him has changed. The thing that has changed is our trust. When we lose confidence in Him it’s not because of Him it’s because of us.
Three years ago I published a blog post Stop Blaming The Devil For Everything Take Some Responsibility . In it I said that if you blame everything bad that happens to you on Satan you're saying the he is stronger than God who says that we can do all things because we have the Holy Spirit in us.
1 John 4:4 (HCSB) You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
1 John 5:3-5 (HCSB)3 For this is what love for God is: to keep His commands. Now His commands are not a burden,4 because whatever has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith.5 And who is the one who conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
When we blow it the enemy comes and tries to destroy our confidence in God by saying: “You’ve let God and yourself down. Don’t even bother going back to God. Don’t pray about it. God’s fed up with you. He won’t listen. You’ve blown it for the last time.”
The next thing we know, we start looking for the same crutches we leaned against before we realized that when God promised to never leave or forsake us He meant it.
Deuteronomy 31:6 (HCSB)6 Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For it is the LORD your God who goes with you; He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Since we’ve lost confidence in God’s ability to deliver us we go back to those harmful relationships in our past, to try and find the love that we think we have lost because God doesn’t love us anymore. We go back to our old thoughts that we have to take things into our own hands and regain control over the situation. We’ll go back to that old environment. Back to those old friends, back to the place we used to hang out and to the people we used to run around with. We'll go back to all the harmful stuff we used to do. We’ll go back to those old coping mechanisms. We go back because it's familiar territory even though we always feel worse after being there a while than we did before we got there.
That’s maybe how Peter and the disciples felt after Jesus’ crucifixion. He was no longer there lead and encourage them. They missed the miracles and the crowds of admirers. They were probably afraid to stay in Jerusalem for fear that the Jewish leaders who had convicted Jesus and turned Him over to the Romans would do the same to them. They wanted to go back to a place where they were comfortable and felt safe. So they went back to fishing. That’s where Jesus found them.
When Jesus showed up early in the morning by the shores of Galilee, the disciples had been fishing all night but catching nothing. Led by Peter, they’d gone back to what was comfortable. But at the end of a night of returning to their old ways, guess what? All they had was a long night of nothing. Have you ever been there? Our culture constantly tells us what we need to do to feel better: party harder, seek happiness in the wrong places, walk the harmful paths. Many of us have gone down that road only to find out it’s still not fulfilling in the end.
But Jesus called out to them, “Do you have any fish?” That phrase as it’s translated unfortunately misses the impact of what Jesus was saying. The phrase is actually a negative. It’s a hypothetical question. The emphasis is placed on what isn’t there. A modern equivalent might be, “How’s that working for you?” Jesus already knew they hadn’t caught any fish — that returning to their old ways was fruitless.
So he offered a solution. Jesus called out, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat, and you’ll find some.”
To an experienced Galilean fisherman, this advice sounded elementary. I mean, fishermen are fishermen the world over, and if a fisherman isn’t catching fish, then he’s going to have some sort of excuse for it. The bait was wrong. The visibility was bad. There was cloud cover over the lake. The moon was out of position. The fish horoscope was bad. There’s always an excuse. You can picture these guys on the boat all night. They haven’t caught anything. They’ve undoubtedly tried the right side, the left side, the front side, the back side. They’ve already put the net everywhere! You can almost hear the sarcasm coming from the boat. “Oh, the right side! We didn’t think of that, did we?”
Who knows their motivation for changing the position of their nets? Maybe they were desperate enough to try what sounded obvious. They listened to the voice, threw their net on the right side, and — boom! Greatest catch ever! They couldn’t haul the net in because of all the fish.
Let’s stay on that point for a moment, because maybe you’ve been fishing for a long time and have a whole night of nothing. Jesus stands before you, and His message is, “I know where the fish are.” Meaning, “I know exactly what you’re looking for, and I know exactly where you can get it.”
Jesus says, if you’re looking for friendship, I know where that is.
Jesus says, if you’re looking for acceptance, I know where that is.
Jesus says, if you’re looking for meaning in life, I know where that is.
Jesus says, if you’re looking for healing, I know where that is.
Jesus says, if you’re looking for significance, I know where that is.
Jesus says, if you’re looking for security, I know where that is.
Jesus says, if you’re looking for satisfaction, I know where that is.
Right now, He’s asking you the same question He asked Peter and the disciples. Jesus is looking at your familiar patterns of living and asking, “How’s that working for you?” He’s not asking for any information from you. He already knows how it’s working out for you. He’s giving you the opportunity to form the words in your heart and mind that affirm the reality of what’s happening.
Once we affirm that reality, then God is able to restore us.
As long as we deny our situation and continue to think that what we’re doing is great and fun and satisfying and that we’re running the show, then we’re still under the power of the deceiver.
The moment we speak the truth and answer to Jesus, “Actually, I don’t have anything,” or “Actually, I feel miserable,” or “Actually, what I’m doing isn’t helping at all,” then Jesus says to us, “Put your net over there.” He says, “I know exactly what you’re looking for, and I know exactly where you can get it. You find what you’re looking for when you follow Me.”
I love what happens next in the story. When the disciples’ net was full of fish, John was the first to recognize that Jesus was on the shore. Peter, always the impulsive one, jumped into the water and swam to shore. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net of fish — it was so full they couldn’t heft it into the boat. Why did Peter want to get to shore ahead of all the others? He was still the hard-driving disciple trying to work his way back into the graces of Jesus. Peter was still following his old patterns. It’s like he was announcing to Jesus, “See those guys still in the boat? They’re not swimming to you, but I am! I’m still your guy, Jesus! You can count on me!”
I wonder what Jesus was thinking. Maybe something like, “Man, Peter, do you still not get it? I can’t count on you. You told me you’d die for me, but you denied me. Three times! What I’m trying to help you understand is that I can’t count on you. But here’s the good news: you can count on me!”
Excerpted with permission from The Comeback: It’s Not Too Late and You’re Never Too Far by Louie Giglio, copyright Louie Giglio.