sunday morning i was actually up early enough to read my bible before going to church. (that doesn’t happen very often, especially when we have to be at church early to serve). i read in luke 5 – the story of when Jesus tells the [soon to be disciples] fishermen to cast their nets into the water, even after they’ve been out all night and caught nothing. they do as Jesus says and they take in such a haul that their nets begin to break and they have to call for a second boat!
when i read bible stories, i try and remind myself that these “characters” are not just names on a page. they were people. real people with real emotions and real problems and real lives. i try and think about what they might have been thinking and feeling and experiencing at the time. i wonder how downcast and discouraged these fishermen had been that morning. this was their livelihood. they had spent a full night working hard and had nothing to show for it. no food. no profit. nothing.
haven’t we all had days like that? or maybe even longer seasons of feeling that way? i definitely have. where you feel like you’re working hard at what you’re supposed to be doing and yet in the end, it’s not working? or when you did everything right and things still aren’t coming together the way they were supposed to? feels like you have nothing to show for a long period of persevering, hoping, praying? sickness seems to cycle through your family repeatedly, there strains in your marriage, the kids are out of control, you can’t remember the last time you sat down and read your bible – or when you did it felt meaningless and dry, the budget never seems to stretch far enough, and God… well, God just doesn’t seem anywhere close? and you find yourself discouraged and disappointed, maybe even despairing. it’s not a fun place to be.**
or maybe you’ve experienced days or seasons of “full nets”? your life is so full of joy and blessing that it’s overflowing! your excitement and hope can not be contained, your joy spills out everywhere and you feel surrounded by plenty. everywhere you look you can see and sense God’s hand at work, moving powerfully. your relationships are thriving, your marriage is healthy, your kids are growing, your devotional times are rich, the sunday sermons are right on the money, the budget stays in the black by the end of the month, the whole family is healthy….
with these two parallel thoughts on my mind, i left for church. during worship we sang the song “Bless the Lord (10,000 Reasons)” by Matt Redman:
the sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
it’s time to sing Your song again
whatever may pass and whatever lies before me
let me be singing when the evening comes
bless the Lord O my soul, O my soul
worship His holy name
sing like never before, O my soul
i’ll worship Your holy name
You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger
You’re name is great and You’re heart is kind
for all Your goodness i will keep on singing
10,000 reasons for my heart to find
and on that day when my strength is failing
the end draws near and my time has come
still my soul sing your praise unending
10,000 years and then forevermore
as we sang i was struck by how this song can be applied to any “season” that i may find myself in. the truth of verse 2 is always true and will always remain, no matter what. God’s love for us, His patience with us, His greatness and His kindness are ever present and all around us, even when we can’t see or feel it. we can keep on singing – even if it’s just on faith – because of who He is and His unending goodness.
~ have you been laboring “all night” and see no results when the “morning” comes? bless the Lord, O my soul!
~ are you discouraged, disappointed, or in despair? sing like never before, O my soul!
~ are you in a season of fullness and joy and excitement? worship His holy name!
~ are your “nets” breaking with abundance and plenty? bless the Lord, O my soul!
this song feels like such an anthem and a call to my soul to sing and worship and bless the Lord at all times and in all seasons and in all circumstances.
there is obviously so much more packed into this song and this scripture passage, but this is what was on my heart and what i came away refreshed by on Sunday. and what i’ve been singing around the clock since then.
**(if you are currently in a season of “laboring all night,” i would highly recommend THIS sermon series and THIS sermon series. the first is by sinclair ferguson and the second is one we just finished here at my church – both of them from the book of genesis on the life of joseph. excellent, excellent teaching that helped my soul so very much during some difficult times.)