For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
. . .
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
(Philippians 2:13, 1:6 NLT)
I've grown up around Bible stories. Every Sunday school, morning devotional, and church service were connected to the Bible. I knew my mom's faded and worn Bible nearly as well as I did her comforting and familiar hands. Hands that made me breakfast, washed my hair and tucked me into bed. Her Bible and hands were always there. And the stories from within those pages are painted on the walls of my childhood memories.
But I'm still discovering stories in new contexts, and stumbling over a detail I'd somehow missed, and some of those details change the scenario completely from the story my child's mind had painted.
It is the easiest thing in the world to let my mind slip into auto-drive as I read the Bible — to cruise along admiring the old familiar landmarks and overlooking the hidden gems along the way.
God places value in our journey and the discovery of age-old truths that are vibrant and life-changing for us here in our specific new season — of motherhood, of marriage, of unsettled times in the world.
You know the story where the disciples had fished all night and caught nothing, don't you? I always imagined the disciples' exhaustion and disappointment. But this morning, I read this story in the context of the previous chapter. Jesus had just been crucified, buried, and then raised. He had appeared to some of them, but not all of them.
Imagine the defeat pulsing their weary veins.
Their Master gone, these battle-worn men went back to the old life they knew — fishing. Back to feeding bodies, not souls.
Had it all been a waste?
Where had their following Jesus led them — here, to an endless and worthless night of failed fishing?
Were they good at anything anymore?
The exhaustion was deeper than one night of missed sleep. It was the deep pain of having watched their beloved leader going through the unthinkable, and his story ending so completely, so differently, than they had expected. It was the bitterness of failure.
We all go through times like this, where life deals us a horrific blow and we feel all the wind sucked from our lungs. Where, by all appearances, it seems we have been forgotten by the very One we've sold out to.
Are you in the endless night of no fish?
Are you exhausted as the sun comes up over the water, mocking your fruitless night with nothing to show for your work?
It's real, I know.
The miracle of the massive load of fish too big to haul in came AFTER the crucifixion, AFTER the deepest heartache these men had ever known, and AFTER a fruitless night of fishing their one familiar Sea of Galilee!
At the place of utter defeat came the sunrise of God's miracle unfolding. In the moment of utter brokenness, Jesus appeared.
When we think the story is over, it's just beginning.
Remember, HE is holding the pen. HE is still writing the final part of the stories of our lives. He who has begun a good work in us, and also planted the deep desire for good and truth and freedom, is not done with us (Philippians 2:13). The pages he is writing in us aren't filled yet. His pen is still poised, ready and full of hope. He will be faithful to complete the story of hope He began in us (Philippians 1:6).
Have courage. The story isn't over yet.