Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow"1 (Lyrics)
I didn't want to, but God was telling me, "Take the boat."
Tuesday was a beautiful, blue-sky day, again, and the kayak lay out in the courtyard, its wheels tucked up under its keel, beckoning to be used. But I had a Bible story to prepare for the afternoon kids club at a local school. Yakking would have to wait.
Loading up my truck with Bibles and song sheets, memory verse tokens and attendance lists, permission slips and cookies, I passed the blue, ocean kayak quietly watching me. Our lesson that day was Jesus jumping into Peter's boat to talk to the crowds of people that constantly followed Him, listening to His explanation of His Father, God, and His love and forgiveness, characteristics not familiar to those Jewish and Gentile people of Galilee.
"You should take the boat."
No, the kids will climb on it; they will get sidetracked and not listen to the lesson. I'll think about it as I continue getting things ready. Then I sat down to really study the lesson till it was time to go.
Luke 5:1-5a – One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. He noticed two empty boats at the water's edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish." "Master," Simon replied, "we worked hard all last night and didn't catch a thing." (NLT)
Peter had just met Jesus not many days before. And not really knowing what this new friend was capable of, Peter obligingly did what Jesus suggested: "If you say so, I'll let the nets down again." We know that Peter caught the catch of a lifetime! He hollered at his friends to come help: the boats couldn't hold all this catch, and the nets were tearing!
Practicing the story a couple of times, I was ready to go. The kayak quietly watched me. If you say so, Lord, I will take the boat. How I was to use it and where I was to hide it until its place in the story, I didn't know, but if God said so, I would take the boat.
Arriving at the school late, I reasoned that if I had time, I would take it in. All things ready, the last prop to go in place was the kayak. I put it behind the stage curtains, still not knowing how to work it in.
All went well, and it came time for the story. I retold the situation that Jesus was in, and to demonstrate, I had the fifty kids crowd around me, pushing me onto the stage. But Jesus had an idea to escape the people: He jumped into Peter's boat! At that, I rolled out the plastic vessel. The kids giggled, oohed, and ahhed. How cool! It illustrated the lesson, just as God had planned!
Maybe the kids didn't fully grasp the lesson as I confessed that I hadn't wanted to bring the kayak there, but God did. I had to tell Him exactly what Peter had said when he thought that Jesus had a crazy idea. I may have prepared a lesson for fifty kids, but God made it a lesson for just one: me.
That lesson, as so many have, sank into my heart and increased my faith. That's just how our God works: teachers and pastors learn more from preparing their lessons than the students. That's one of the great benefits of being obedient to God's call on our talents.
Prayer: Father, You are creator of all. You include everyone, yet one person at a time can be dear to You in a special way. Reminded once again of Your sovereignty, direct our attention to Your love, like You did with those crowds of people. May we yearn to follow You as a crowd, or as a church, or as an individual, like Peter. Your love is for us all. Thank You for that awesome love. Amen.