Sunday, December 30, 2012

Knee Deep in Sardines

Via Bill Reel, I discovered a fantastic talk by Dale Sturm of BYU-Idaho. Two things need to be cited from this talk that I'd like to remember. First, is Brother Sturm excellent telling of the story of Peter in one of his early meetings with the Lord when the Lord commanded him to throw in his net for fish.
Try to imagine this with me: The sermon is over and the boat is brought back the few yards to shore. Peter drops his now washed and dried and folded nets into the empty boat. He sighs that tired sigh that means the work is finally done. Perhaps he now turns his thoughts to breakfast and home and rest. It is in this moment that the Lord Jesus Christ looks Peter in his weary face and says, “Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.” In other words, “Take those nets you just cleaned and put away, and sail back out on to that Sea you just spent all night on, and use your tired, aching muscles to throw the nets out again and see if we can’t catch some of those fish that are nowhere to be found today.” Can you imagine the look on Peter’s face in this moment? Peter seems to begin his response to the Lord intent on saying no, but something happens half-way through: “Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing.” I imagine a long pause here as the Lord listens to Peter while calmly, firmly, lovingly, expectantly gazing at him. Peter changes course: “Nevertheless, at thy word I will let down the net.”
And then this.
Now amidst the excitement and the yelling and the laughter and the splashing, Peter stops and falls to his knees right in the fish. “Depart from me,” he says to Jesus, “for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” We may come to know Christ and feel our testimonies move up to the next level at the most surprising moments. For Peter, it happened when he was weary and discouraged and knee deep in fish; but when he had, nevertheless, responded to an invitation from the Savior; when he had done something he was not in the mood to do. Faith is not just a feeling; it is a decision. I think that sometimes the pay-off is more powerful in moments like these because the Lord has allowed us to illustrate—to Him and to ourselves—that our commitment is bigger than the circumstances.
I love the phrase upon which Brother Sturm built his talk, "Faith is not just a feeling; it is a decision."

Also moving was the poem he quoted about a lanyard woven at summer camp as a gift for a mother. 
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift—not the worn truth
that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.
Most of us have felt, I'm sure, that our token repayments have been sufficient. Brother Sturm says,
And even more disturbing, I find that I sometimes think the same way about what I owe to God. I go on as if my sporadic temple attendance and my pretty-good personal prayers and my hit-and-miss family nights are enough to make us even; that these “lanyards” I offer to God are a sufficient trade for Eternal Life and Glory and “all that [the] Father hath.”
We can do better, with His help. We will never be "even" but we can do better.

While browsing through Brother Reel's site looking for the post with the reference to Brother Sturm's talk, I also noted a great post on "praying with your feet." It is one I think I'll read again in the future.

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