SCRIPTURE: 1 Thessalonians 1:5 (TM)
When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn't just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions.
STORY: The Parable of the Net by Dr. Harley -
One fisherman takes his fish from the net every day, but let's debris from the ocean accumulate. Eventually so much debris is caught in the net that he can hardly cast it out of the boat, and when he does, it's almost impossible to retrieve. Finally, in a fit of anger, he cuts the net loose and goes home without it. He's unable to catch and sell fish again until he buys another net.
Another fisherman removes debris every time he retrieves the net with the fish he caught. Each time he casts his net, it's clean and ready to catch more fish. As a result, he catches and sells enough fish to support himself and his family.
I like Dr. Peterson’s phrase in the scripture: “The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions”… especially during this week when the scripture lessons have been leading us to consider the consequences of our behavior. And then I ran across Dr. Harley’s parable. He shares it on his web page about building good marriages, but I think it works within the context of all behavior.
Our convictions can be made out of steel – strong and unbreakable – but if we allow the debris of daily living to accumulate even steel convictions can break or at least weigh us down to the point that we are no longer effective … no longer usable to the Kingdom of God … unable to catch any fish.
As we walk through our life at each turn we pick up a feeling here and an attitude there. Before we know what has happened our basket (life/spirit) is full. We become unable to handle anything more and so, we simply dump the full basket on the next person that walks into our life. Stress is an ugly destroyer of relationships. It erodes the steel of our convictions. Our witness is tarnished. Simply put, our nets (life) become too full with debris of living that they (us) cease to be effective.
What to do? In counseling sessions I use the nursery rhythm, “Picking up paw-paws; put ’em in a basket.” The basket is our life and the paw-paws are all the stress factors (debris) that we accumulate daily, moment-by-moment, hour after hour and when we reach a certain breaking point we dump – lose it – taking out our frustration on whomever crosses our path next. Oh, by the way, everything in life, good and bad, causes stress to build up in our life. Yes, even the good things in life cause stress.
The spiritual challenge is to make sure our nets (life) is free from the debris (stress) that can ruin our convictions of steel. Laugh often. Cry frequently. Talk repeatedly. Share a lot. Vary daily activities. Work hard. Learn to relax. Admit when we are upset. Give ourselves permission to be happy. Hug ourselves. Learn to own our feelings … no “you make me feels…” Pray constantly. Find a safe yelling spot where no one can hear you. Give ourselves away in service. Take daily moments for me-time. Take a walk. Nap regularly…
In other words, find ways to clean the nets of the debris so that our convictions will remain of steel and able to catch more fish!
Help us Lord to keep our nets clean.