Friday, January 17, 2014

Devotion for today: Sometimes we have to change direction

John 21:1-6: After these things Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way.  Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will also come with you.” They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing.
 But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. So Jesus said to them, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” They answered Him, “No.” And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.” So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish.

So many times in life we find ourselves stuck in a rut. We are doing what we always do. Or we are following a plan we feel is right for us, although we are not realizing any success. Sometimes we honestly believe we are doing what is necessary to survive or even complete God’s will, yet things are not going well. Maybe we are trying to care for others and putting our own needs aside, yet the joy and satisfaction of living are long gone from our daily routines. Just like the apostles, who caught nothing, we are frustrated.  What to do?

In the above passage, Jesus has already risen from the dead. Many scholars ask why the apostles are fishing at this point. They are aware that Jesus has miraculously returned to them, and they were told to wait for Him. Yet here we see Peter leading the others into the sea. Maybe they were hungry and this is how they obtained food. Maybe Peter was tired of waiting, or confused or frustrated and needed to do what was familiar. I think this is a key point. God reaches out to us wherever we are in life. He comes to us in the ordinary aspects of our lives. We do not necessarily find Him secluded in a church or during prayer time. God wants us involved in life, and that is what happens here. I am reading a wonderful, short but powerful book entitled, “Abandonment to Divine Providence.” It is attributed to Jean Pierre de Caussade and this was a favorite book of St. Therese of Lisieux. In every chapter the author reminds us that simple daily living performed completely in abandonment to the will of God is the only requirement for life. Easy to say, but how do we know the will of God?

We see in our passage that Jesus is standing on the shore but they do not recognize Him. I thought it was strange that He called them children since these were His closest friends, so I read some commentaries and it really is odd to use that expression here. The word John used was paidiai and literally means little children. No wonder they didn’t know who was talking to them! Jesus never called them that before. Plus, we are told many times in the other gospels that the apostles didn’t recognize Jesus once he rose from the dead since His body had undergone a miraculous change. It is for our benefit, I think, that Jesus used the term for little children. What is a better description of us when we are lost and confused and frustrated? How many times has Jesus reached out to us in our lives in varied and unusual ways, and because it was “different” from what we expected we didn’t listen. We need to learn to expect a God of surprises to lead us in our daily lives.

Jesus offers the apostles advice. He tells them to throw their nets off the right side of the boat, and they do. What a difference! Before their very eyes, the nets are filled to the breaking point. That is what happens when we listen to Jesus. That is what happens when we are humble enough to acknowledge that the plan or idea we thought was so great, really isn’t so great because it isn’t the one God had in mind for us. Repeated disappointments and failures in life are sometimes the result of just not casting off on the other side of the boat. If we follow the voice of God, we will always be successful in the will He has for us. Don’t be afraid to change directions, or intentions. Don’t worry if at first you can’t hear God speaking to you or you don’t recognize the voice as His. Keep praying, and keep thinking about God. Make your life a prayer to Him, every thought word and deed, and soon you will hear Him whispering in your ear. God is always near us in our repeated failures and disappointments, ready to turn them into successes. Pray without ceasing by making your life a prayer; be humble, obedient and faithful to God, and then get ready for the big haul.

I will not be doing a daily blog for awhile as I have decided to go back to work full- time. I have been praying for a way to financially keep my mom and aunt in the nursing home we chose for them. I really wanted a very rich uncle from Italy that I didn’t know existed to write me a letter and send me a check for a huge amount of money since he discovered I was his only living relative. So, ok, this was not realistic, but I really had fun with the idea as I prayed for a solution. Then out of nowhere I was offered a job that I couldn’t refuse. Still sounds very Italian, I know, but hey, I am the descendant of Italian immigrants, so I pray, dream and live the Italian way! I will write my blogs as this new schedule permits. I love writing these, and I thank all of you who gave me encouragement and kind comments. Just keep checking, I’ll be posting, and let’s all keep casting our nets into the unknown.

 Love you and God bless, or as they say in Italy, "Ti amo e che Dio benedica", 


No comments: