I know I may have told this story before, but it is one of my favorites.
A middle-aged woman has a heart attack and is taken to the hospital. While on the operating table she has a near death experience. During that experience she sees God and asks if this is the end. God says no and explains that she has another 30 years to live. Upon her recovery she decides to just stay in the hospital and have a face lift, liposuction, breast augmentation, tummy tuck, etc. She even has someone come in and change her hair color. She figures since she’s got another 30 years, she might as well make the most of it.
She walks out of the hospital after the last operation and is killed by an ambulance speeding by. She arrives in front of God and complains, “I thought you said I had another 30 years.”
God replies, “I did, but I didn’t recognize you.”
I know and you know God always recognizes us. This story is usually the other way around. We don’t recognize God. We fail to recognize what He is doing in our life. We fail to recognize what He is doing in other’s lives and in general we miss what He is doing in the world around us.
Listen to the story from Luke as Peter has a personal encounter with Jesus one day by the Sea of Galilee. Even in this story Jesus was already working in Peter’s life… he just didn’t know it yet.
Now it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him and listening to the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret; 2 and He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake; but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets. 3 And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat. Luke 5:1-3
Jesus was teaching and the people were listening to Him. Apparently, He felt a little crowded and wanted some space. He saw two boats near-by and asked to use Simon Peter’s as sort of a stage or platform.
But I believe there was clearly another reason why Jesus wanted to speak from the boat. Later on, He wanted to talk to the owner of the boat, Simon. Jesus is not only interested in crowds, He is also interested in you individually. Sometimes we need more than classroom instruction. We need individualized tutoring. The Lord knows when we need more personal attention and arranges life so that we get His undivided attention.
If we believe the Lord’s instructions cease after we leave the church pew, we are mistaken. If we believe the Lord’s instructions conclude when our Bible’s are closed, we are deceived. These events are merely the beginning of our journey. The real test arrives when we are called to apply what we have learned. How much one-on-one time have you received lately?
Why does Jesus change His approach for just one person? Why would Jesus change His focus from a crowd to a single person? Most ministers are trying to climb out of the single digits, not move towards them. Evidently Jesus recognized a hunger in Peter He didn’t see in everyone else. So, He rearranged His schedule to help Peter move from a shallow type of faith to a deeper faith. I don’t believe Jesus wastes His time. If you are receiving one-on-one attention, then He believes it is time for you to move into deeper waters as well.
There was an Episcopal pastor who was having a cup of coffee in the restaurant across the street from his church. He was reading his paper when the fellow next to him noticed his clerical garb and asked which church he led. He pointed across the street to the Episcopal Church. The fellow eagerly piped-up and said “Why that’s the church I go to myself!” At this the pastor perked up and said “That’s strange. I’ve been preaching there for five years and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you.” The man responded, “Come on now, preacher. I didn’t say I was a fanatic.”
Peter was a “fan of Jesus” at this point, but he wasn’t a “fanatic for Christ” either. He had been baptized by John the Baptist and witnessed Jesus being baptized as well. He had witnessed Jesus performing a few miracles including the healing of his mother-in-law. But until this point, he had yet to commit himself fully to Jesus’ teachings.
For many Peter’s type of committment would have been enough to give them security. Jesus knew the difference and so should we. Jesus wants to move each of us from the “fan” level of faith to the “fanatic” level. The only question is are we personally willing to go with the Lord to deeper waters?
– More tomorrow.