Have you ever been patiently explaining something to God for the third or fourth time because HE just doesn’t seem to get it when you suddenly realize, “Wait. I’m a total dipwad. I’m pretty sure he knows this already. Maybe I should just shut up, so that He can explain something to me.”
Well, this happened to me just the other day. Actually, this happens to me regularly, but let’s focus on the other day, last Thursday.
I was sitting in the living room during naptime Binge-Bible study. (Binge-Bible study is when you sit down to catch up on four days worth of homework that you have to complete before that night’s Bible study. The reason you have to do Binge-Bible study is because you were terribly self-absorbed and mismanaged your time all week.)
One of the stories that I was reading was the one in which Jesus’ disciples fish all night long and catch nothing. Jesus arrives on the scene and tells them to go cast their nets into the deep for one more go at it.
Peter (I bet in an exasperated tone) tells Jesus they’ve been fishing all night, but “at your word, I will let down the nets.” They obey, catch a boatload-literally-and their nets are breaking with all the fish. Peter is astonished and feels totally overwrought, but Jesus simply responds, “Don’t be afraid, now you will be fishers of men.”
Something struck me in this passage that I don’t think I’ve ever noticed before. It was that Jesus did the disciples’ job for them. He basically enabled them to do their work in record time to free them up so they could do what HE wanted them to do.
He did their job, so they could do his. Sort of. All they had to do was . . . take Him at HIS word.
It got me to thinking about a situation that I’d been facing up to the very moment I sat down for Binge-Bible study. But let me back up a little and give you the backstory because you know, if it’s gonna be any kind of a decent “I Love” post –in the way of I Love Manna, I Love Ram, or I Love the Fattened Calf— a little backstory is required.
***********( I have it on good authority that the length of this post is worth it, so please, PRESS ON. Just FYI, the authority is not mine. :))
A little more than a month ago, I learned about a contest sponsored by The Seed Company for bloggers to win a ticket to a blogging conference called Relevant, which is held in PA later this month. I had heard a lot of wonderful things about this conference held for Christian women bloggers, but I didn’t have the least hope of going since the tickets were more than I could afford, AND they were sold out within a few days of going on sale back in the spring. Alas.
But, the contest offered me slight hope, especially since it was focused on missions which is something I’m passionate about. So, to make a long story slightly less long, I entered the contest. I had thought and prayed a lot about what to write, but with no brilliant epiphanies. At the eleventh hour just before the deadline, I just said a little prayer over my entry, “The Most Important Post I Ever Wrote” and I entered. I basically said something like, “Lord, if you want my blog to do something or be something or glorify you, I’ll do whatever I can, but you gotta make it happen.”
I won’t belabor. To my utter and complete shock and surprise, I won!! I won the ticket. I was utterly flabbergasted that despite my overlong explanations, lame-o videos of kids, and generally sub-par attempts at rallying support, they gave me the ticket. Hooray!! Moreover, you have probably noticed that while I find my niche as a “writer,” the logistical and technical aspects of blogging elude. Thus, I really REally, REALLY, was thrilled to win a ticket to get some much needed blog education from wise women who have been blogging longer and more successfully that I have.
I basked utterly for about 24 hours and then I realized that I still had to pay for my own transportation and lodging. I won the ticket just four weeks before the conference, so I was quite daunted at the realization that I would have to come up with several hundred dollars out of a budget that, well, wasn’t budgeting for this. And, as I’ve mentioned before, we don’t do savings.
Rats. How I wished I had a nice little nest-egg or omelet of savings to turn to in this moment.
But in the absence of savings, my first step was to find a roommate or roommates. (Funny that it wasn’t to PRAY?!?!) The hotel rooms for the conference were $113 a night and, apart from the cost, I really DID NOT want to room alone because that would be kind of depressing. I took a headlong leap into Twitter and Tweeted my way into finding another woman who would respond to my desperate pleas for help. Little did I know that long before I had even KNOWN about the ticket, God was working on this. I got a “TWEET” (such a weird word), from another blogger who said she and her roommate would be happy to have me. HAPPY! Recently I read one of her blog entries from early September about how God was challenging her to step outside of her comfort zone to find roommates–even though she didn’t necessarily need them.
Of course He was challenging her! He had a plan long before I was making one.
But surely He would need my help to make sure that all things came together accordingly? Right?
Even with two roommates, I still had to pay my one night hotel AND get TO PA and eat. I was still short. Even genius-couponing would not produce the necessary funds. I needed a carpool.
It is an eight hour drive each way. Four tanks of gas will be roughly a couple hundred bucks –not to mention that our 2000 Taurus Wagon has some tune up issues. The airbag light has been on for a month. The right wiper blade motor was dead. And the potential driver, me, has not done a solo eight hour drive since . . . .um . . . . well, I guess it was 2001. The thought of being along for that long in the car is at once totally enticing and horrifying. I don’t know if I am capable of handling that much quiet.
I tweeted for carpools. I Facebooked for carpools. I randomly messaged any conference attendee who lives in NC for carpools. (Did I mention desperation? Creepiness? Stalker-esque behavior?) Nothing panned out. I was beginning to get antsy. Last Thursday was the two week point before my departure. I was in a frenzy of Facebook, following any possible lead for a carpool to Harrisburg. I was totally neglecting my kids, my Bible study, my husband, my blog, my house–all for the sake of the conference. I mean, wasn’t it GOD who helped me win the ticket in the first place. Didn’t HE want me to go?
I wrote on my Facebook status: Really getting frustrated that I can’t find a carpool to Harrisburg, PA for the blogging conference. Why would I win a ticket and then not be able to go? That doesn’t seem like God, but I sure can work myself into a dither doubting sometimes.
I decided to take a break from the dither I’d worked into to prepare for a Bible study I’m in this Fall, which brings me back to where we left off at the beginning.
The same section of the study as the big catch of fish passage focused on how Jesus and his disciples took time away from the stresses of their work to refresh themselves and pray. One verse that stood out was:
Mark 6:30-32 The apostles gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. And He [Jesus] said to them ‘Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.’ (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves.
Let me tell you, I had the distinct sense that the following conversation began in my head.
Jesus: Doesn’t that sound like a good idea? Getting away by yourself.
Me: Yes. That would be awesome.
Jesus: Why don’t you drive by yourself? That would be a great opportunity for us to talk like you are always saying you want to do.
Me: I CAN’T afford to ride by myself. I thought you knew that.
Jesus: Right. But is that the reason you don’t want to?
Me: I’m a little nervous.
Me: I’m TOTALLY unused to stillness and quiet. It creeps me out. It makes me think a child is drowning in the toilet or something. If things are quiet, I get all antsy.
Jesus: Yeah, I know. But I think it would be good for you–even if you’re afraid of it.
Here I am working my rumpus off to TWEET myself a ride to the conference and Jesus is making me think I need to ride alone. Then I read about the big catch of fish and I get the sense that He’s saying, “If you let me do YOUR job, then YOU can do what I want you to do.”
I wrote in my study book, “Is God trying to free me up so that I can focus on being with HIM?” But what I was really thinking was, “God, I’ve been fishing ALL NIGHT LONG for a dang carpool!!! If you want to talk to me alone in the car, you’re going to have to give me a BIG CATCH OF FISH.”
I got up from doing my study, went to the computer to see what the status of my fishing nets. I had an e-mail from a newly made friend who lives a very modest lifestyle like ours. She had read my carpool plea and talked with her husband and they . . . . WANTED TO GIVE ME $100 for my trip! (I know some of you hate the all caps because it means shouting, but I AM SHOUTING!! WHHOOOOO-HOOOOOO!) That was basically the amount that I was hoping to get from someone carpooling with me.
But wait, it doesn’t stop . . . .
That night at my Bible study, another new friend who heard about my trip came right up to me, pressed some bills in my hand, and said, “Someone gave me a chance once, and I want to do the same for you. It’s not much, but I want to help you with your trip!”
Not much my eye!! When I got in the car and opened my hand, there were 5 twenty dollar bills. Now I had virtually the entire cost of gas for my trip!! I had also found out through the magic of Twitter that we would have a fourth roommate, so our lodging costs would be even less.
My nets were full. I was completely blown away. The next day I saw the girlfriend who had promised the first $100. She gave me the envelope and a hug and was so encouraged when I told her about my other friend’s gift. On the way to the bank, I opened the envelope and in it was a note that said, “We FISHED around in our couch and found a little bit more. Okay just kidding about the couch cushions . . . :)”
FISHED! FISHED! Really, you fished?!?!You didn’t “look” or “search” or “root around” or “dig”? You FISHED?
Inside was $300!!
I will pause for you to absorb–(while I cry).
I practically drove my car off the road which, of course, would have been a very bad way to treat the car that was now certainly going to be repaired and in fine condition to take me, myself, and Jesus all the way to PA where I would be able to pay entirely for gas, edibles, and my fourth of the hotel.
Less than 24 hours from when I took the Lord at his word and trusted Him for a big catch of fish, He TOTALLY provided by way of these beautifully generous women who are part of His Body. My roommates. My new friends. My sisters in Christ who don’t yet know what a crazy blogger lady they’ve helped.
I’m still terrified about what God wants to say to me on the road to PA. It’s such a long drive! What if HE yells at me?!
And I don’t know why He provided for me to go to Relevant. To be quite honest, I am humbled out of my mind that He keeps providing for me in these amazing jaw-dropping, driving-car-off-road ways.
Remember way up at the top (Kuddos– to all four of you still reading. ;)) when I said Peter was “astonished and overwrought” when they pulled in the nets full of fish. Well, what he actually says is, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”
That’s how I feel. Exactly. I mean, why would he want to be near to me and do these things for me? Why? Why me? Why not someone else smarter, better equipped, and more spiritual? Why not someone with an amazing, technologically wowing blog!?
My only conclusion is that this big catch of fish freed me up financially, so that I can spend time with him and hopefully be a better disciple–maybe even through this blog.
ALSO, this Big Catch of Fish is another story of provision that he deserves and should receive ALL the glory for. He loves to be glorified and I hope that through sharing these stories of his provision, I will bring him greater glory.
If you know someone who could be encouraged by “I Love the Big Catch of Fish,” please share it. Also, if you haven’t read the other provision stories, check out the links to the other “I Love” stories above.
Update: You’re NEVER going to believe what happened in the sequel called Big Catch Catches Air. (Wait. Did I drive or fly? Read to find out!)