For three years the disciples followed Jesus. They witnessed people receive their sight having been born blind. They watched leprous skin clear up right before them. They were standing there when Jesus called Lazarus out of the tomb four days after he died. They handed out the five loaves and two fish to the 5,000. They not only saw Jesus walk on water, they saw Him calm the wind and waves. They had countless fireside discussions that you and I will never know about. That’s why I’ve always been baffled by this one thing that happened after the resurrection.
John 21:3 says, “Simon Peter said to the others, ‘I am going fishing.’ ‘We will come with you,’ they told him” (GNT). After all they had seen and done, they went back to their old life. It’s hard for me to comprehend how they could experience everything they did, and then just simply go back to their old life. Had they forgotten that Jesus had told them that from now on they would be fishers of men? How could they go back to being regular fishermen? No matter how perplexing it is, I have to wonder if we are any different.
We may not have seen those miracles as they did, but if we accepted Jesus as our savior, we experienced the power of God in our own life. We felt that initially cleansing feeling and the peace that passes understanding. Yet somehow, many times we go right back to our old way of living. We know we are supposed to be a new creation, but that old life that’s supposed to be dead and buried calls out to us and tempts us to go back. Even though we experienced the power of the resurrection, we sometimes live as though it had no affect on our life.
That life is as fruitless as that night of fishing for the disciples. The great news for us is that Jesus is on the shore calling out to us, “Have you caught anything?” Then He reminds us to cast our nets on the other side. He reminds us to return to Him and to live our life in the power of the resurrection. When we live that way, our nets will be full. Jesus’ words to them that morning were simple: Follow me. That call goes out to us too. Don’t go back to who you once were before you followed Him. If you have “gone fishing” in that old life, you can swim to shore where Jesus is waiting to welcome you back with open arms.
Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
I’ve been reminded twice this week about what I called “American Night in Cairo”. When I lived in Egypt, there were days were I longed to be back in the States and I would remember everything great about the U.S. On those days, I would put a cassette tape in my jam box that my parents recorded from my favorite station at home and listen to the music, DJ chatter, news, traffic and weather. I’d cook hotdogs that someone brought me, open a can of chili and drink a Dr. Pepper that a friend got from the commissary. After that, I’d put in a VHS tape into the VCR, sit on the couch and what “Friends” and other shows from “Must See TV” with commercials and all. For a moment, it was like I was back in my natural habitat.
The truth was, Egypt was my new home. I fell in love with Arabic, the pyramids, eating who knows what from who knows where, the dust storms, the horns honking, sailing down the Nile and everything else that was special about living there. I was so caught up in looking back to my old life that I almost missed the new one. I longed for days that had passed and my memory amplified how great things were because they weren’t right in front of me. It got to be all I thought about until I really embraced Egypt.
I heard the first part of Romans 6 last night from The Message Bible and it paralleled with those nights in Egypt. It says, “If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace – a new life in a new land!” I find myself, even now, looking back on my old life, the one where I didn’t follow God’s ways, and remembering it with fondness.
I don’t think it’s bad to remember the good times I had, but when I start longing for them again, it distracts from my new life in Christ. I start missing out on what God has for me in this new land. I can’t allow what used to be to dominate my present thoughts and to create a homesickness for what once was. Since we’re born into sin, that lifestyle is “home” to our flesh. Our mind and body want to go back there, but our spirit, who is given to us from God, desires the new land. It creates a battle inside. That battle stunts our growth, stagnates our walk and keeps us from seeing all the blessings of the new life.
It wasn’t until I quit having “American Night in Cairo” that I began to see the beauty of my new home. I had missed out on so much because I was always dreaming of what used to be. What is your “American Night in Cairo” that keeps drawing you back to your old life? God has called you to live a new life in a new land. Don’t spend your time in this new life dreaming of days gone by. Thank God you’re forgiven, listen to the deepest part of your spirit as it calls you to love this new life and follow after it. You live in a country of grace now. You have a new life in a new land, embrace it.