Obedience and His Plan For Us

Exodus 24:7, 9-10a

Then Moses took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient”…Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel.

John 21:1-7

After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat; but that night they caught nothing. Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, for the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”

These readings for today echo a similar theme to me....one of obedience opening up the opportunity to see God. God wants us to know Him and to have a relationship with Him….He longs for personal encounters with us….real moments with Him in which we too would see Him act on our behalf, recognize Him and exclaim, “It is the Lord!” Is this not our own longing too? I know it is mine.

Like the Israelites in our Exodus reading, I so easily promise to do what I believe God wants me to do. I truly desire to be obedient. The disciples too desired to follow Jesus and to learn from Him. Yet we often come up with our own way of doing things and then wonder why what we planned isn’t working.

Peter and the disciples had been told by Jesus after the resurrection to wait in Jerusalem (Luke 24:29) until Jesus would clothe them with the power of His Spirit. However, Peter decided to not wait in Jerusalem and he and others went north to the Sea of Galilee to return to fishing, only to catch nothing. It was their plan and not God’s plan. Mercifully, Jesus didn’t just leave them in their disobedience but came and found them. He opened up another opportunity for them to obey, telling them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. They didn’t know at that moment that it was Jesus speaking to them, but their frustration and need for a better outcome led them to do what they were told. And many fish filled their nets, more than they could haul in. Then and only then did they realize that it was Jesus!

I am comforted by these readings. In our struggle to obey God, Jesus meets us and offers us the path back to obedience and His plan for us. The hard part is that we don’t always get to know it is Jesus doing this for us until after we obey. Obedience has to come first, then the revelation of Him. When we see the good fruit of our obedience, we recognize the Lord in it.

We are truly on a journey of faith that often requires us to wait on the Lord’s “best” plan. And yet, when we get impulsive and decide a different way for ourselves, Jesus is faithful to come into our frustration and discouragement to redirect us back to Him. In our renewed obedience and the revelation that follows, we taste the sweetness of our words as we too get to proclaim, “It is the Lord!” Let us pray:

Lord Jesus, we are grateful that you are always with us even when we fail to recognize You as we go about our lives. Forgive us when we fail to wait on You and what You have for us. Help us to be patient to wait on You, seeking You at every turn in our lives, holding fast to Your promises. May our desire to see You and to manifest Your plan in our lives override our impatient and often selfish ambitions. Today may we renew our covenant of obedience with You, Lord Jesus, and wait with expectancy for Your greater revelation. In Your precious Name, we pray. Amen

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