My own journey towards surrender started one day on the beach, so many years ago. I was fishing that day, just running my business. It was a day like any other. Just an ordinary day in the kingdom of Peter. But Jesus was already on the scene, and when he approached me that day, well, it would be the beginning of my journey towards surrender, and killing Self.
Before that day I was aware of this Jesus and his impressive teaching, and had even seen him perform miracles. He had healed Ruth’s mom, my mother-in-law, when she was deathly ill. (I’m trying not to hold that against him!)
But up until that day all I knew was about Jesus; I didn’t know him. Oh, I had already been introduced to him, and had even spent some time with him. My baby brother Andrew was enamored with him, so naturally I had been around Jesus several times. But if you had asked me in conversation, “Do you know Jesus?” I would have answered something like, “Yes, I’ve met him more than once, but I don’t really know him.”
Up until that day I wasn’t about to follow Jesus. I couldn’t, don’t you see? I had a business to run. And I was busy running the Kingdom of Peter. Of course he was a great speaker and a wonderful teacher, and of course he was friendly, personable, and even charismatic.
But he was just a preacher. Okay sure, if I followed his teaching life would be better – anyone could see that. But to follow him? Out of the question.
Years later I would ask Jesus, “Why can’t I follow you now?” I even proclaimed, “I will lay down my life for you.” Ha! Jesus knew that night, what he knew that fateful day on the beach: not only would I not lay down my life for him, I wouldn’t even lay down my ambitions for him.
Jesus knew what I would soon have to learn, and have to continue to learn again and again over my lifetime: until I see Him for who He is, I can never see me for who I am. And until I can see me for who I am – a lost and blind sinner in desperate need of Jesus – why would I put anything, or anyone, ahead of … me?
That fateful day on the beach began with me having fished all night and caught nothing. Along comes preacher Jesus, and after teaching, he sort of commandeered my boat and said, “Put out into deep water, and let down your nets for a catch.”
“… let down your nets for a catch.” How presumptuous! Who does he think he is? I’m the fisherman. He’s the preacher. This is my area of expertise. There were no fish to be caught. As I said, I can probably learn some good life lessons from this guy. But does he think he can help me in the details of my working life? Don’t be ridiculous.
What I learned that day is that fishing is just like any other profession: We do not control the outcome. This is obvious for us fisherman. There is skill involved, of course, but the fish are either there or they are not. Yet it is just as real for everyone else, no matter what your profession. None of us, no matter how hard we try, control the outcome. But he does.
Let me repeat that: you do not control the outcome – any outcome. You never have and you never will. If you think you do, you are delusional. That, or everyone around you is miserable. Just ask my wife Ruth what it was like when King Peter was in charge.
You know the story. Our nets filled to almost bursting and the boat was so full of fish we almost sank. Until that day I thought I was in control. Until that day I thought I had been a success because I was … me. King Peter! What a fool. What a blind, lost fool I was.
Looking back on that day I can easily see why I didn’t yet know him: I didn’t even know me. How could I see the awesome, incredible power and majesty of this Savior of the world, when I had no need for a Savior? King Peter was doing just fine, thank you.
But when he became real, in the very details of my life, suddenly my eyes were opened and I could see him for who he is, and I could finally see me for who and what I was: a silly little pretend king strutting around in my silly little kingdom. Suddenly I cried out, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”
But he would not go away. And for that I am eternally grateful. He is calling you, too, you know. Will you ‘drop your nets,’ and your meaningless ambitions, surrender your silly throne and follow him?