Sunday, September 13, 2009

Strengthened by remembrance

As I woke up today and thought more about yesterday's entry, I deeply felt there was more to write. Both my mind and heart hovered over the meditation brought up in chapel by our school principal.

Just as in Luke chapter five, when Peter is learning what it means to trust Jesus fully, only Jesus knew what would soon happen when Peter would deny him not once, but three times. I believe that Jesus also knew that Peter's trust in him was at the root of this and would play out in his denial of his Lord in the coming hours. What Jesus says next is disturbing, to say the least, for he tells Peter that Satan has demanded to have him, that he might sift him like wheat.

However, even though Jesus knew that Peter would deny him and struggle as Satan brought trial against him in this time of failure, Jesus states, "And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers." It says "when" you have turned, not "if." Jesus looked beyond Peter's failing to his future triumph as he would establish the foundation of the church in the Lord's grace for its future expansion . Jesus knew what Peter was capable of and who he actually was as God's son. As our school principal stated in chapel, "Jesus is not surprised at our screw-ups. Jesus has prayed for us that our faith won't fail. He looks past our failure to being fast in our walk with him atfterward, being strengthened and not quitting in faith."

And so this brings us back to Peter in the boat, straining and striving to catch fish all night. What Peter learned here, I think, is that self-effort is no effort at all--that it is ultimately failing. However, the same grace that lifted Peter out of his circumstances when he failed to fill his nets with fish was the same grace which looked beyond Peter's failure when denying Jesus to his death. But Jesus himself prayed on Peter's behalf and he prays on ours as well, interceding for us that we might not fail.

I certainly have had my bout of victories as well as trials while on this journey at Bible College in Australia. I believe that because the enemy knows what fruit is coming out of this season, he is trying his best to sift me and throw me off course. However, I can take confidence knowing that Jesus is interceding for me even right now, just as he did for Peter, that my faith might not fail. It is the same for every one of us. I am convinced that oftentimes when we step into a place where the Lord wants us most, we meet the greatest amount of opposition. But we will not fail, as Jesus is himself interceding for us.

Our school prinicpal relayed that when the enemy came to sift us during our journey at Bible College, one of our greatest weapons with which to fight him is to remember all of the ways the Lord has revealed Himself to us--how he has shown his faithfulness to us in times past.

The Israelites, who we learn much from, seemed to unfortunately lack the abilitiy to do this. In Psalm 106, it notes how God delivered his people out of the hands of the Egyptians, bringing them across the read sea, then miraculously providing for their every need in the desert. However, this provision was not enough for them and they began to mumble and groan in their spirit. This was an act of mistrust and doubt. Verse seven illustrates this well: "Our fathers in Egypt understood not nor appreciated Your miracles; they did not [earnestly] remember the multitude of Your mercies nor imprint Your loving-kindness [on their hearts], but they were rebellious and provoked the Lord at the sea, even at the Red Sea." Even though they doubted all along the way, the Lord continued to show his faithfulness to his people. Verse thirteen goes on to reveal more of the tragedy of it all: "But they hastily forgot His works; they did not [earnestly] wait for His plans [to devlop] regarding them..." (Amplified Bible)

As I begin to reflect on this, I am ashamed to even admit my doubt and lack of trust while facing questions of the Lord's provision during this current chapter. The Lord has taken care of me all during this year in every single realm, health, finance, friendship, community... the list goes on. And all of these provisions have been through the body of Christ--God's family. Why would he stop his provision now?

I must remind myself that Jesus is wooing me to himself to bring me to a place of complete trust as I become more aware of my own lack of resources, just like Peter's lack of resources in his midnight fishing fiasco. It is in this place of dire need where the Lord chooses to fill our net to the greatest extent we have yet known--full to bursting! It is in this moment that he works a miracle.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

An unexpected catch

Hello again! I have been meaning to write for the past two and a half weeks.

Life has been a little hectic as of late, but I'm blessed in it all, nonetheless. Maybe I'll just recap a little of what's been going on at the Hillsong International Leadership College...

I have been blessed to receive a job just five minutes away from where I live in Sydney. I have also been able to start leading a venue team for Hillsong College. Aside from this, I have been attending a full-time school and ministry schedule and still managing to find time to sleep and get my daily routine of excersise in. I am also being reminded of the importance of making time for relationships in the midst of busy schedules. As my friend who is a pastor at Hillsong says: "People, after all, are the only thing you get to take to heaven with you."

It's also been interesting trying to fit work in, for I've had a resurgance of health issues as I've tried to take on this new role during an already full-time school and ministry load. As a quick recap, I have battled on an off with the symptoms of chronic fatigue since arriving in Australia. Although getting a job has been a great blessing, it has also tested the limits of my energy and strength while in this season of recovery. I have been recovering so well with my health in the past couple of months that, to be honest, it scared me a bit when I had a setback after starting my job. As I'm now in my last bit of savings for school and needing to work to continue but not knowing how I'll actually hold up in the process, I'm starting to ask the question, "Lord, how is this all going to work out?" I think what I'm really asking is, "Are you going to take care of me Lord?"

I'm reminded now of my school Principal's message to the students the other day in chapel. She was reading from Luke five where the disciples have been fishing all night and have caught nothing. Jesus then asks them to try the fishing net on the other side of the boat. Of course, the disciples have been doing this all of their lives and so for them to comply is definitley an act of humble submission. They are shocked to find that out of their own lack they find provision when they obey Jesus' direction. As the disciples knew, and what I am discovering, is that trust leads to obedience.

Daniel was one such example who I read about this morning. Even when Daniel was persecuted and tried by his enemies who were trying to frame and defame him, Daniel's one response was to seek the Lord more fervently. He was thrown, however, into the lion's den because of it. But Daniel never stopped trusting the Lord; because of this, the Lord showed his faithfulness to Daniel by shutting the mouths of the lions.

And so, in all of this, I have begun to ask myself the question: "How am I showing God that I trust him? Do I really believe what He has promised in his Word? Do I have the integrity to 'go to the lions den' because of my devotion to the Lord in complete faith?" As Jesus relates in John 15, if we really love him, we will obey his commands. One such command which speaks to me is found in Matthew 6: "Do not worry." When our trust comes out of a revelation of God's nature and who he really is, then obedience flows naturally.

Although I don't know exactly how everything will pan out in this season, I do know that he who began a good work in me will carry it out to completion. Although there are questions regarding jobs, finances, health, and even how I might pay for a second year of college (I am feeling more and more called to stay) I do know the one who has already accomplished it all on the cross and secured my eternal future. And so, why do I find myself worrying? I think because God has assure my eternal destination, then providing for health/finance/fill in the blank... shouldn't really pose a problem. God is ready to fill our fishing nets beyond capacity when we simply follow him in trust and obedience--a lesson I'm apt to apply and re-apply every day.

Jesus truly is the best fisherman of all and wants to fill our nets when our own resources have failed. I think that Jesus actually wants us to reach this point of realizing we have nothing left to offer or give, nowhere else to turn but Him, so that his power in our lives may be realized to the fullest potential possible for our human understanding. I am finding that striving and straining must go and that trusting and obedience must flourish. I want to avoid all-nighters fishing when I can rest in my God, knowing that he has the biggest catch of all for those who trust in him.