"Master, we toiled all night, and took nothing. But at Thy Word I will let down the nets." This is the kind of faith that avails in His service. It trusts Him to bless us beyond all our deserts. Provided our expectation is in Him alone." Watchman Nee
There was a time when I saw the above Scripture as His guarantee that if I would just believe, there would come a time, even while in the deepest desert, that He would bring forth to me, especially in ministry, "nets" overflowing with a catch. After all, isn't this the "rest of story" as concerns Peter and the other disciples? They spent a great amount of time fishing with nothing to show for it. Jesus came, and at His Word, they went back out and this time, they brought in an enormous catch. My view was that if I just hold on, keep believing, I will get to the goal I've set, the vision I've cast, and the result I want. In a sense, I was and am right, but the motivation in all of it was strictly from my self life. It was focused on me. It wasn't focused on Him. It was my idea of a great catch. Not His.
I heard writer and speaker Sarah Hagerty, talking about her latest book, "Unseen." She said that after a number of years of seemingly fruitful ministry, she felt that she was running on a treadmill. Though she spoke much of great and wondrous Father, she didn't feel like she really knew the Father she spoke so much about. She thought fruit, approval, and significance came in and through what she did...especially in what she did for Him. She knew little of the God she invested her life in telling others about. So she stepped out of ministry and took a job working in a small pottery shop.
On day, while working there, some her and her husband's friends from their college days came into the shop. She said she immediately felt ashamed, because she thought that they had caught her being "insignificant." I think right there, in that feeling, she speaks to something deep within all of us. We all want to be significant, to matter. We then go about trying to prove that we are by seeking to achieve great things for Him....but also for us. There is a double edged motivation that may feed our spirits, but definitely feeds our fleshly desire for applause and approval. She was "caught" being insignificant. How often has the same happened to you and me? How many of us, especially those in ministry, have been fearful of being "caught" like that as concerns the number of followers, listeners, attenders of and to what we do? I know I have. Many times. So have you.
Hagerty says that in that place of shame and embarrassment, came the sweet voice of the Father. Hagerty, like you and me, tied her significance to her productivity. The Father asked her what she believed He thought of her when she was unseen and unnoticed by all but Him? She said He told her, "I like you when you're weak." No matter what we say about Him being our Source, we want to be, to appear as anything but weak. Yet Paul said that it was the one of the traits in us that He cherished above all others. For in our weakness He makes us strong. We can only find that to be so when we get off our treadmill. Hagerty said that it was in the little pottery shop that she truly began the journey into the depths of who Her Father really was. And who she really was as well. Her significance didn't come from her performance but from what He believed about her.
While she worked at that little shop, she was invited to speak to a ladies group. She prepared, and her time to speak came as the sun was setting, Somehow, proper lighting hadn't been provided, and she couldn't see her notes, or the expressions on the faces of those she was speaking to. She had no idea how what she was saying was being received, whether she had their approval or not. As she walked to her room, she heard Him speak to her heart, "They are not your audience. I am." She melted at that. Do we?
I've no idea where the Lord has placed you, but I know where's He's placed me. You may find yourself, like Moses, tending a little flock on the backside of the desert. Unnoticed and unseen by all....except Him. Is that, can that be, enough? Anonymous to everyone else, fully known, loved, and approved by Him. And the fruit flows. Much of it unseen here, but fully seen one day. You and I will never see or understand that while on the treadmill. We'll have to get off it. That's the piercing question for us all. Will we get off that treadmill?