Memorial Day (here in the USA) is a day to remember all our service men and women who have laid down their lives for our freedom. Their blood on the battlefield has been payment for the freedoms we live under in this country. My admiration for these people and their families is and will always be indescribable.
When we are in love with someone, we think about them all the time. Since this past holiday weekend, I couldn’t help but think about Jesus laying His life down for my freedoms as well. The freedoms that transcend the place I reside in; these freedoms gifted to me go so far beyond. They give me peace in the midst of storms, provisions in my needs, love for the “unlovable”, forgiveness for everything not apologized for, forgiveness for myself and all the things I’ve ever said and done, an eternal freedom in Heaven when my time is done here on this Earth. This freedom is like a breath of the fresh air on the first day of spring, breathing in all the fragrance of the budding flowers and grass; all the new life coming into bloom. His willingness to give up His life for me so that I can experience these freedoms leaves me blown away every moment of every day.
Then, I’m left with this question for myself: Is there anything in my life that I’m willing to lay down in sacrifice for Him? When you’ve been blessed with a freedom like this, you want to do something to honor it. Not because you have to or because it’s required, but because your heart is filled with gratitude. How has my life honored this? Am I just enjoying the freedoms or am I truly honoring it.
I wrote about this in a previous blog post (Net-Breaking Blessing) that I’m constantly being reminded of. This story about Simon Peter (Luke 5:1-11), a fisherman by trade, had been out all night long trying to bring in a harvest and was grossly unsuccessful. Pulled his boat to shore early that morning, cleaning off the nets and closing up his day and likely full of frustration and discouragement, is now asked by Jesus to use his boat. He then gets Jesus on his boat, puts out a bit from the shore and Jesus preaches a message to all who were following him. After the message, Jesus tells him to go out into the deeper waters and cast his nets on the right side of the boat. After a long night of unsuccessful fishing, the last thing I’d want to do is more fishing. But, he did it and not only did Jesus fill the nets with fish, they were in such abundance the nets were breaking and the boat was sinking! Once they got to shore, Simon Peter was in awe of this miraculous thing that had just taken place. Jesus spoke purpose over him and Simon Peter’s reaction was to leave his blessing right there on the shore to follow Jesus into an unknown future.
I share this to say, what have we sacrificed out of our adoration of Jesus and the blessings He’s gifted us? How could we become fishers of men if we hold onto the blessing for ourselves? How would we gain wisdom without trials? How would we grasp a hold of peace if it weren’t for storms? How would we recognize the amazing and lush greens of our Promised Land if we hadn’t experienced the elements of the desert? The thing we have to continually sacrifice is our flesh. Our flesh wants the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil when wisdom tells us the Tree of Life is all we truly need. Our flesh wants the blessings without sacrificing some comforts to become all the Lord has called us to be. I suppose Simon Peter could have still been a fisher of men while enjoying the spoils of that net-breaking haul, but I don’t believe he would have been as successful as we was. He still would have reached lives, but not at the level of impact that he had. No matter our choices, the Lord will use us. It’s our choice to learn and understand Heaven’s accounting. Simon Peter became more blessed than that load of fish. Wholly blessed, inside and out, not just isolated to his bank account.
So, my challenge is this: to be willing to lay my life down in sacrifice, walking away from what appears to be the blessing I’ve been praying and hoping for; realizing that if that is so amazing, He has something so much better in store. We have to strive not for the blessings, but for the purpose He has on our lives. It’s not about me, it’s about Him working through me to reach the ones who haven’t met Him yet. Becoming “fishers of men” in this life.