The net, the hook, and the sort… this week’s study uses an analogy of fishing.
“They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. Come follow me, Jesus said, and I will send you out to fish for people. At once they left their nets and followed Him.” Matthew 4:18-30
These men were looking for fish, but we’re looking for lovely. We are collecting the good pieces in all of the bad stuff; that’s what this study has been about.
The net. When you’re fishing with a net, you look for a shiny fish. You see a glimmer and you cast out the net. Fish travel in schools so if you see one, you’ll likely catch more with the same net. But you have to be looking; you have to pay attention. We have to choose to have eyes to see the everyday moments around us that are worth holding on to- to see that God is good. Every now and then you will come up with some good- something to encourage you and remind you not to quit. The hard days and empty nets will be worth it because sometimes the nets are full.. but only when we look for the glimmer, eyes open, can we enjoy the times of emptiness.
Those of you who know me personally know that my circumstances over the last year and a half have been less than ideal. It’s been the BEST worst year of my life. I grew up being one of the popular kids. I’ve lived in a lot of different places because of my childhood, but I’ve never had a problem fitting in anywhere… I was always mostly liked, easy to get along with, always had plenty of friends. Until I moved where I live now. And even then, that got worse. Accusations and unpopularity from people who had never taken the time to know me as a person set hard with me, I was brought to my absolute lowest. Thank God, because it drove me to Jesus. In the midst of one of the biggest trials of my life, God began to show me the good. Who He was, how He loves, what it means to love him back, what it means to trust Him, to rely on Him, to be pleasers of Him and not pleasers of people. Learning these things, applying them to your heart- to your life; it shows you how much good there really is, even when it seems like it’s not. Even when it feels like the world is against you, He is right there; walking with you, handing you blessings that will be so unnoticed unless you’re looking for them. He has taught me so much.. about life, about how to be a person. He’s still teaching me.
The hook. In Matthew 17, the people ask Peter about Jesus paying taxes. But so that we do not cause offense Jesus told Peter to go throw out his line, the first fish you catch will have a coin in its mouth; take it and pay our taxes. Mine and yours. A singular purpose, simple instruction. Catch one fish, THE fish. And pay our taxes. Can you see the visual symptom of a bigger picture here? Peter had a need. God knew the need. God provided the need. He did it with a gentle spirit. Jesus paid taxes y’all. Why? It certainly wasn’t because He had to. But to avoid worthless and unnecessary conflict, He did it.
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold FIRMLY to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain” phillipians 2:14-16
Ask yourself what are you fighting for, really. Is it honestly worth it? To be right? To prove a point? To defend your name? Would I have gained anything by saying awful things about the people who were saying awful things about me? No, y’all. A gentle, QUIET spirit. Without complaining or arguing we can be more singularly focused on looking for the good that God is working around us. Our own plan. I think that just like that fish with a mouth full of money, God has something specific for us too. Something intentional and intentionally for you- to help you get through your hard time, but never expect to catch lovely things with a nasty attitude. For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fullfill His good purpose. (V.13) He gave Peter what he needed, and he wants to do the same for you. How He loves us, y’all. He so very personally loves each of us. He sees. He knows. He provides. All we have to do is bait our hooks with a quiet spirit that trusts in Him.
The sort. Matthew 13 starting in verse 47 it talks about a big net that catches all kinds of fish. When it’s full the men pull the fish up to shore and together they sit down and collect the good fish but the bad ones are thrown out. (Food for a different time, this is the analogy of what it will be like in heaven. The good get to stay and the bad are tossed out. Revisit that) As it applies to this, though, the team sits down and together they sort through it.
In exodus, it tells a story of Moses holding his staff up to God. As long as his hands were raised, he was victorious, when they started to fall? They started to lose. So Moses’ friends said oh you tired? Here, Lemme help you. They stood on each side of him, held up his arms, and together they found victory.
Ecclesiastes 4 ^
It’s okay to need people, to not have to do it all on your own. Are you in the middle of some kind of mess? A period of darkness? A time of uncertainty? Sit down with a friend and say look I got all these stuffs, I know there is good in there because I know God is good. Help me find it. Help me sort through it. Or maybe you’re a little less messy right now- it’s not your turn to need a friend but to BE one. BE KIND. Be a shoulder, y’all. You have no idea what people are going through, what their un-public lives are like, not on Facebook but really, really look like, what their days consist of. If you can’t bring yourself to help somebody else, at least be good enough to not add insult to injury. If it’s too hard to be kind, just be quiet.
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” psalm 27:13. The glimmer, the net.
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” Jeremiah 33:3 The specific plan. The wait. The hook.
“Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” proverbs 27:17 The kind. The friend. The sort.
We’ve all prayed the prayer “show me Lord”. Just show me, I’ll do what you want. Show me. We fish and fish and try and fix and fix until we’re a little sure that we’re just missing something, and maybe even a little concerned we’re on the wrong path altogether. Ever been there? You will never make too many wrong turns to disturb the plan God has for your life, rest in that. You do not hold that power. He is going to make you serve your purpose, it’s just how you get there that is up to you.
Trust in the lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; and trust in Him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like noonday. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him. Don’t worry when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger, turn from wrath; do not fret, it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land” psalm 37:3-9
Love the Lord. Try your very best to be a good person. Commit to God, work on that relationship with Him. Let Him give you what your heart wants so bad, but wait for it. Be patient. We live in an uneven world where from all outside standards it looks like not so good people are almost being rewarded for not so good things, don’t worry about that stuff. Don’t get mad, don’t get even.. those things will only bring you down to the same evil things too.. and evil people, they will be destroyed, but you? Gods people, the ones that did right? The kingdom is forever, and when all of this is over for each one of us? It will be waiting.
Y’all. I don’t care what my net brings, what my hook catches, what bad I have to throw back this week… that right there… that piece of scripture.. THAT is lovely enough for me.