Scripture is clear that when the disciples made it to shore that morning, there was already a breakfast cooking to completion over the fire. But rather than Jesus offering the disciples his food in isolation, Jesus instructed his followers to bring a portion of their night’s catch and to add it to the flames. It’s an important mention, and one that I’m glad John included with the story as he was carried along by the Holy Spirit while writing it.
Jesus didn’t ask them for more fish because he necessarily needed more fish. Jesus asked them for more fish because in doing so, he was able to share in the joy of their prior obedience. It is the same with us. When we obey God and out of that obedience our nets begin to fill with abundance, we have the sacred responsibility and holy privilege of bringing that abundance to the heart of the Father so that he might receive the glory due him. Our catch doesn’t arrive at our initiative. It arrives at our Father’s, and when we forget to remember his hand in the matter—when we take the credit for the catch because, quite honestly, fishermen and women are all about bragging rights—we miss out on one of the sweetest aspects of divine fellowship with our God—
The beauty of sacred cooperation between his heart and ours. God invites us to come alongside him and to work with him to bring about a kingdom agenda that doesn’t have to include us, but because of his great love for us and grace over us, allows us a portion of deeded influence. He trusts us with the net; the best we can do is to trust him with the catch—to give back to him what belongs to him and to remember that we are as dust without him.
If I’ve said it before, I’ve said it at least 43 times (that’s one a year for those counting birthdays): If there’s anything good in me, it’s not because of me, it’s because of Jesus. I didn’t always think this; I used to think that I was pretty good all on my own. But then grace humbled me. I walked a prodigal road, and I thought some prodigal thoughts. I lived some prodigal sin, until my prodigal days caught up with me, and I realized my growing depravation and corresponding hunger. It was then that grace finally took hold of my heart, and I realized that I was not as good as I had previously thought. God was better, and if my life was ever going to amount for anything good, I would have to wear his grace openly and without reserve—owning my wretchedness while acknowledging his holiness.
Since that time, God has blessed me with abundance. My net has been full on more than one occasion; I wish that I could say I’m always faithful to quickly acknowledge his hand in the matter. Thankfully, with each obedience comes further understanding. I’m beginning to see the correlation between my submission to his directives and the bounty of my net. And when I do, when I realize that the provision I am holding really doesn’t belong in my hands but belongs in his, I’m quick to surrender it to the fire so that he might receive all the glory and share in the bounty of my night’s catch.
I don’t think many things please the heart of our Father more than when we “bring what we have” and place it before him for the partaking. His hunger for relationship exceeds ours, and when we offer him a “taste” from our nets, we open up our hearts for lavish, intimate fellowship with our God.
The beauty of sacred cooperation—of him bringing what he has and us bringing what we have to the table of grace with the purpose of growing the kingdom.
It’s a mystery, friends. I cannot get my mind around God’s allowing me any measure of influence regarding his agenda. He’s entrusted this mystery to each of us—to the holding of it and the dispensing of it therein. Some days we serve that purpose better than others. Some days we come close to understanding how it all works and other days all we can do is throw our hearts up in faith, surrendering the details and particulars to his perfect understanding.
I’ve stood in both places this week—understanding and faithful confusion. But as long as I’m standing with Jesus, it matters not the level of my perception. What matters is He who is with me in my deliberations over breakfast—him sharing his fish with me, me sharing mine with him.
Sacred cooperation. Mutual joy. Intimate relationship.
Where I want to be this day. I want the same for you. Enjoy your time on the beach with Jesus this weekend. I’ll see you on the other side of breakfast. As always…
peace for the journey
Copyright © February 2010 – Elaine Olsen