As He was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He noticed two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, throwing a dragnet into the sea, for they were fishermen. And He said to them, Come after Me [as disciples—letting Me be your Guide], follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men! Matthew 4:18-19.
Recently we call our confinement to this motel a lifeboat. There is little for us to do in this cramped space, so we have taken to fishing for men. Admittedly Wanda is far better at this than I. However, we both do our part in reaching out to those God brings our way. As we learn to become fishers of men however, we have discovered all is not as we had been taught.
‘What comes to us’ is a key lesson we learned on our wilderness journey of uncompromising faith. This is our way of understanding that we do not strive for, nor seek any provision or task, but wait on Jesus alone to bring to us what we need. By this action we deny ‘self’ the ability to spoil, interfere or pollute what good the Father is bringing. This lesson is even more important when our lives intersect with others.
Many years ago, God likened our wilderness training to that of American Navy SEALs. Doubtless the training has been equally severe, and the task set before us similar in scope. One of our favorites is the search and rescue missions the Father sends us on. To seek and rescue those that are dangerously close to losing their spiritual and/or mortal lives. The other night we had an unusual encounter.
For a few nights we knew a prostitute had taken a room close to ours. The strange men came every ½ hour or hour from noon til midnight, searing their consciences for lust’s sake. The traffic was unusually heavy and concerned us greatly as there was a young family living on just the other side of the prostitute. Then, late on the second night, a silver car pulled up as Wanda and I stood outside. The young man exited his vehicle sheepishly and tried to enter the room.
Normally we would let this pass, for it happens far too often where we live, but this young man was different. As he stood there, waiting, we felt the Lord casting His net out. Wanda called to the young man and in her stern, grandmotherly voice called him to come over. Sheepishly he did so, and Wanda soon discovered that the young man was a Christian. He had come from overseas and with his newfound freedom had let his lust run amok. But God had other plans and set a roadblock in his path.
Lust in the dust
Lust is a powerful drug that we are quite familiar with. When fed by ‘self’ unrestrained lust is a voracious monster that demands, as all addictions do, a greater and more malevolent depravity in order to be satiated. This young man before us was solidly in its grip and yet God had put us in his path to rescue him from its clutches.
My own challenges with this beast have taken many years of decisions, mistakes, repentance, slips, grace and forgiveness in order for me to heal. As always, Jesus is ever faithful to me as I walked this difficult path. I understand the issue and the solution better than I ever wanted. Now here was a young man caught in the same trap I had been. We could not just leave him to fall into failure and defeat.
One of the great miracles God performs in our lives is to change the place of our greatest wounding into a well of healing for others.
If we grow into faith and maturity Jesus will take the poison out of our system and cleanse us with His own life-giving water. When we encounter souls who thirst for truth and healing, even if trapped in a cycle of addiction, we are to give freely what we have freely received. This was our rescue mission.
- No matter how deep the valley you have been through.
- No matter how much you have failed or others have failed you.
- No matter the depth of grime and depravity your ‘self’ and satan have dragged you through.
- No matter what, God can cleanse and heal you. We can attest to this for we are living proof of His power to change fallen man.
No person can ever say to us that any addiction is greater than God’s power. The only condition Jesus makes in our healing is that we must follow Him. If we choose His life over ‘self’ He can, and will, restore us to the place of honor and dignity ‘self’ has denied us.
Being fishers of men
The other day Jesus surprised us with a fishing trip from our lifeboat, as God had us cast our line out to rescue a lost brother. Though he had once proclaimed Jesus as Lord he had fallen back into ‘self’ as many do. Our Father was unwilling to see this young man throw his life away by his folly but barred his way and gave us a living example of 1 Corinthians 10:13.
We too were once fish, lost in the sea of humanity, burdened by ‘self’, lawlessness and headed for destruction, maybe even after accepting Jesus as Lord. Merely acknowledging Jesus as the One in control does not automatically make it so. We must learn to be diligent in continually following His lead and being obedient to Him. If we follow Jesus without question, He will steadily release us from the shackles of ‘self’ so our spirit can grow into maturity. The longer we walk in His footsteps, the more we will be healed and will eventually become fishers of men.
As sojourners through the wilderness, we stand as a witness of God’s power to heal and transform us from fish to fishers. Like the man before us, you too have a choice of either ‘self’ or spirit, lust or love. The answer need not be pre-ordained. You can choose life over death.
Homer and Wanda