God Knows…When I Want to be Happy – Part 1
GETTING nice things makes us happy. A new CD, a new outfit, perhaps a bike, or something else we’ve been wanting. There’s happiness that comes from GIVING nice things, too. A birthday surprise for Dad, a smile for someone who’s feeling down, a moment of help for your younger sister, a letter you write to your grandparents. Happiness, much as we all want it, means a balance of getting and giving. In its truest sense, it means reaching up to accept the gifts God wants us to enjoy and then reaching out to share them with others.
“To a fisherman, a net full of fish is happiness.” This is what the fisherman Simon Peter and his friends probably think. After a weary night out on the lake, they come back to shore with nothing to show for their efforts. The fishermen begin to wash the detritus from their nets.
Why are there so many people down at the lake this morning? It can be for only one reason: Jesus is in the area. They swarm around Him, so eager to hear what He has to say that He has barely room to stand at the water’s edge. Seeing one of the boats nearby, Jesus steps into it and asks Peter to shove it out a little ways. Jesus sits down, and teaches the people out of the ship.
As Jesus talks He seems to be saying, “I know a happier way for you to live. It’s the way of love.” He shakes their thinking: “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Hmm, this kind of love involves choices and actions, not just feelings. What does Jesus say next? “Just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.” What YOU give is more important than what others give you. “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.”
Exactly what Jesus said to the crowd that morning is not known. But we do know that “when He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”
Simon Peter may have thought the idea was nonsense. The water was so clear that nets would frighten the fish away in daytime. He answers. “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” (Luke 5:5).
As the boat slowly goes back to the deep water where the net can be let down, Peter isn’t feeling very happy. How quickly his feelings change to joy and thankfulness when he and Andrew try to draw the net back in! The net is so full of fish that it starts to break. They shout to James and John to bring their boat to help. They came, and filled both the boats so full that they began to sink.
God provided for Peter and his friends the biggest haul of their lives. It is booming! At this moment Peter came to an amazing realization: that Jesus is the Son of God. And he realized how little he has to give back to Jesus. Suddenly, comparing himself with Jesus, he felt very small and sinful. While the others were busy taking care of the fish, Peter threw himself at Jesus’ feet and cried, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Luke 5:8). He didn’t really want Jesus to leave him. He clung to Jesus’ feet as he said those words. It was just Peter’s way of saying that he realized how sinful he was and how much he needed Jesus.
Jesus replied, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” In other words: You have been getting for yourself. Now you will be giving My good news to others.”
Working on their own, Peter and his friends had a night of discouragement. But when they were with Jesus they had joy and success. When the four fishermen realized how important Jesus was to them, they left their boats to help Jesus full time.
Your Story Hour
PO Box 15
Berrien Springs, MI 49103