If I had all the time I wanted, I’d begin the day writing. However, early mornings are also the only consistent time I have to exercise. So, before heading down the stairs to my outdoor writing shed, I usually crank the ignition on our old Dodge Caravan and head to the YMCA for a few laps around the track.
It’s so early, I’m not always aware of what direction people are supposed to be walking (it switches daily). So, there I was, arms pumping, Spandex legs cranking around a turn last week when a man came flying straight at me!
“Wrong direction!” the woman a few paces behind me yelled, but the man kept right on going.
“This is the only way I know,” he said.
Only after a few more helpful suggestions from the other woman and me did this man read the schedule taped to a rail, believe that he was going the wrong direction, and humbly turn around. However, his words stayed with me.
How often do I arrogantly continue in the wrong direction simply because it is the only way I know? The only way to take care of the house? To treat my family? To work? Pray? Get through the day?
Often, I’d be better off stopping, humbly asking for direction, and even reversing course rather than recklessly continuing down the same familiar track and risking injury to myself and the people I love. Yet, stopping–whether a harmful habit, a negative way of thinking, a selfish attitude, whatever–may seem impossible. Especially when I don’t know any other way.
Those early followers of Jesus must’ve felt the same way. After the death and startling reappearance of the man they’d believed would save the world, they must’ve been pretty confused. So, back they went to the only way they knew. Fishing. Wouldn’t you, if everything you’d given the last three years of your life to had seemed to fail?
So, they slipped their boat into the Sea of Tiberias and worked all night without catching a single thing. Then a man called from the shore, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?”
“No,” they answered.
The man told them to try a different way, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you will find a catch.”
It must’ve seemed like a pretty stupid suggestion after fishing all night, but humbly, they did. And boy, did it work! They caught so many fish, they needed help to haul them all in.
Recognizing that it was Jesus talking, one of the disciples changed his direction in a BIG way, throwing himself out of the boat in his hurry to be with Christ. And the really cool thing? Jesus invited them all to breakfast. He already had fish cooking by the shore.
So if you find yourself heading in the wrong direction because you don’t know any other way, take courage! Change is possible, even though it may feel like going backward. Or throwing yourself off a boat. But when you humbly ask for help, there’s likely to be a good meal waiting.
And if you run into a bewildered looking person standing in the middle of the track early some morning at the YMCA, please be kind. Offer an encouraging word. If you know the direction, share it.
It may just be me.
“He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way,” Psalm 25:9.
Ever needed a little help finding the right direction? Or changing course? What do you think?