Run Girl, Run
There is a story in the Bible when Peter had been up all night trying to get a catch of fish but caught nothing. Jesus, the "man" trained in carpentry told Peter to put down his net for a catch of fish. Peter, the trained fisherman, said that he had been up all night and that the fish are just not biting, "but at your bidding, I will let down the net." Because the Son of God asked, he would humble himself and let down the net. There was such a catch of fish that the nets nearly broke, the boat nearly sank. Peter was amazed. He fell down like a dead man and exclaimed, "Go away from me, for I am a sinful man!"
I am a worker/achiever in this world. I achieve in the area of well-done work in the work place and achieving when it comes to some level of book learning. I am not a scientist or a genius. I am not a musician achiever. I am not an athletic achiever. I am not a singer, an evangelist, a minister to the elderly or to those stuck in shelters. I am (not yet) a mother to adopted children but I have four wonderful and amazing children who are natural achievers in this world also.
When I was a brand new babe in Christ, when I was 21 years old, the Lord found me and saved me at a time when I desired to be a doctor. I whole-heartedly gave that desire to God. Then He enabled me to become a doctor and has shown me over the years in many times and places that He is the One in charge of this area of my life, and He has called me to be a doctor and a psychiatrist.
Over the years, more than twenty, the Lord has carried me on a journey. It is the journey called, "This, I have called you to do."
When I was a home-schooling mother, I continued to do some doctoring on the side, but not very much. I guess a part of me thought that I was holier because I was not working that much. Don't get me wrong, in that time and place, that was the right and best thing for me to do that God allowed me to do and it was wonderful and I am so happy for it and I would do it again in an absolute second if the Lord would allow me to. But He hasn't allowed me to. It was for that time, not this time, and that is fine. No, perhaps better, that that is not for now.
He has said, "Let down your net for a catch."
To which I have replied (not literally, this is a figurative conversation), "I have tried to do my very best works for You Lord, and You are holy, and I don't think that if I "just" work as a psychiatrist that You will be pleased or honored in that. I think that You would be more glorified if I cooked more for my family, and I am sorry that I don't, I think. I think that You would be more glorified if I adopted a child and helped to raise him on my own, even giving up my work if necessary. Besides, in what way would You, a holy God of Gods, be glorified or ministered to if I just work well in a psychiatric hospital? No God. I will not serve You that way, because that is not the kind of God You are."
(And Peter said when God said to him in the vision to take of the creeping and crawling things to eat, "far be it from me to eat! I never eat anything unclean," and God replied not to call unclean what He has called clean.)
And over the mountains and through the sea, His river runs with love for me (line from a song) and God has prompted me to work harder and more involved at the psychiatric hospital, getting another degree to be a bigger and better leader, it would seem. And it came to a point in time that God said, figuratively, to let down my net for a catch.
“I have labored as hard as I know to serve You and I have not caught spiritual fish. I have not entered in to the usefulness that You have created me for. But because You are God, and know best, because You bid me so, I will let down my net. I will work hard at the hospital, I will do what comes just natural to me, I will begin the process of getting the MBA at what I believe to be Your leading. To me, it seems an odd way to serve You. But because You tell me, I will do it.”
So I let down the net in obedience. I run the race that is marked out in advance before me. I let the rivers of living water flow out of my inner most being. I look at the cross and run. I run and run and run and find that I was created to run and God created me to run. He did not create me to excel in all areas, just certain areas. Like the people that He created that were to use specific skill and talent to create the wood architecture and carvings in the Temple; they were created to do that. That was for them to do, that wood project. They were not to be a Levite and carry the ark on poles or to sacrifice the rams. They were not to be a Moses and lead the people. They were made to perform a skill and performing that skill is (one reason) why they were made. They would not have been happier doing other things, even if they were trying to please God doing other things because there didn’t seem to be that much holiness sitting around and working on wood projects all day.
As I was praying this morning with my friend Marilyn, I brought to God my inner turmoil within myself of the conflict that had been a force but now is more like a residue, and asked that God remove it as I prayed to Him about my work and my inner conflict that I was not serving Him if I am a successful doctor and leader in this world. How I know now that it is not true that if I am a successful doctor that I am not serving Him. I know it is true that God is glorified in my being a successful doctor and this is a race that He has marked out before me, whether or not anyone understands or accepts it that I am worshipping God in this fashion.
So I prayed to Him with these ideas in mind and I found myself speaking for Him and I said to myself in the prayer, “You said that, ‘I created you to run and why do you find it hard to believe that I created you to run and you can just run,?” and I stopped in mid-sentence and tears rolled down my face. I felt ashamed in my vulnerability and thought if I breathed I would gasp so I sat there. My friend went on and prayed about something else, not realizing the moment that was occurring between me and my Lord. I pulled the phone away from my ear because I didn’t want the distraction away to take me away from that which my Redeemer was doing to me in my life right then. I could hear her pray about a woman at church with great needs and I silently lifted those up to the Lord without hearing all of the details, all the while I was trying to hang on to the reality of what just is transpiring between me and God.
That I can run. That I was made to run. That I have skills and a desire to run. That running IS glorifying God because He wants me to run, made me to run, told me to run. And running for me is not trying to do stuff for God. Not trying to be holy. Not trying to do a certain pre-prescribed thing but to rest in His pleasure. For me it is to let myself be a great and knowledgeable doctor and leader at the hospital and beyond the hospital without apologies, without doubt or “I’m sorry’s” to no one in particular. It isn’t saying in gesture or attitude, “I’m sorry that I am successful.” It is just being successful even all the while knowing and continue to hold the position and the reality that being successful in the world isn’t the most important thing – in fact it is unimportant. Doing what God created me to do is important. Running His race for me without distraction from the world. It is walking with the knowledge that “This is who I am.”
“By the grace of God I am who I am, and His grace to me was not without effect, no I labored harder that all the other apostles, yet not I but the grace of God in me (Paul in 1 Corinthians).”