Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I keep thinking what a sweet gift Jesus gave Peter when He sent him fishing. Peter loved fishing! He was a fisherman. All twelve of the disciples were regular guys from every walk of life who had given up career and family to follow Jesus. With Jesus they constantly faced situations that took them out of their comfort zones, that required them to do the impossible.

Were they all really suited to become apostles, evangelists, preachers and teachers? Were they really suited to establish a world movement, write scripture, oversee a whole new way of life, face torture and death? Is this anything they would have chosen for themselves if Jesus hadn’t called them?

The apostle Paul was suited to be a rabbi, preaching in the vaulted colonnades of Solomon’s porch. As the protege of the famous Rabbi Gamaliel, he was on his way to stardom. Instead, Paul became something he wasn’t in the least suited for. A Pharisee, with extensive knowledge of the oral law and scripture, he became the evangelist to the Gentiles. He finally admitted that to do the job he had to basically forget about everything he had learned and just preach the gospel in simple terms.

He had been born to wealth and privilege, and ended up with very little to call his own, working as a tentmaker and itinerant preacher. He was regularly beat up, and a couple times left for dead, shipwrecked, exposed to the elements and worse.

But Paul had this to say about the work God had given him to do, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” (Phil 4:11-12). Later, he told Timothy “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (I Tim 6:6-10)

Philip Doddridge, a pastor 250 years ago prayed this prayer about contentment, “O Thou wise and merciful Governor of the world! I have often said, ‘Thy will be done;’ and now Thy will is painful to me. But shall I upon that account unsay what I have so often said? ‘God forbid!’ I come rather to lay myself down at Thy feet, and to declare my full and free submission to all Thy sacred pleasure.”

What would you like God to ask you to do? Now, what if you were to empty your thoughts and feelings of all your own desires, and were to say to God, as pastor Doddridge did, “Do with me as You will.” What do you think God would ask you to do? God will certainly call you to join the harvest.

There is hard work to be done, and often it is work that may not suit you, may not draw out the gifts you would like to have developed, may require you to get out of your comfort zone and do the impossible. This is when the lesson of contentment is so important.

Jeremiah Burroughs, a pastor 350 years ago, said “Contentment is that sweet, inward, gracious frame of spirit which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal at every condition.” You look for the things that can be enjoyed, because you delight in God’s wisdom of calling of you.

And sometimes the God who knows you, and knows what blesses you ,will surprise you, as Jesus did with Peter, with something you are perfectly suited for, and which you will enjoy to the hilt. Peter was going to give up fishing entirely so he could do what God had called him to do. But what God called him to do was fish!

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