All through the Gospels, Jesus would always ask questions from the infirm before performing the miraculous. One day, He asked a man, who had been sick for 38 years, whether he liked to be healed. It was obvious that the man needed it. Had he told Jesus that he was okay with his health status, He would not have healed him. At the seaside, He asked Peter and his fellow fishermen, whether they had caught any fish. If Peter had told Him that they had caught enough for the day, Jesus would have left them in their sorry state.
Pretending that everything is okay when it is not, is the cancer that eats deep into the fibres of many lives. Peter made a grave confession, that they had toiled all night and caught nothing. Pride could have precluded him from telling the story as it was. Ndigbo decry a man, with a chewing stick in his mouth, who claims that he is chewing stockfish. It is self deception. False lifestyle is the bane of the society. Some men, many years ago, would borrow cars, dresses, etc, when travelling home from Lagos to see their parents or to marry. The idea was to give the impression of affluence, when they were struggling to live. A certain Uncle, who visited me for ‘introduction’ as he was proposing to marry my cousin, came with a borrowed car. Based on his assumed status, if I had given him the ‘Long List’, our trademark, he would have deflated brazenly like a balloon! Some people, to their pain, conceal even their health challenges. Pride!
It is amusing that lazy people still expect success in the things they do. When you are struggling to go to work or to attend to your business, they sit idly-by, talking glibly and even mocking you. When I was in school, one day, on my way to the library, I greeted some students I met talking. After some hours, I went to the hostel to do some laundering and they were still there talking. Going back to the library, to embarrass me, one of them asked whether I was preparing for exams. ‘I came here to read,’ I replied, silencing him.
‘We have toiled all the night, and caught nothing’. Peter and his colleagues had laboured and yet it was unfruitful. Hard work is important, but hard work per se, cannot guarantee success. ‘It is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy’ – Rom 9:16. In my dream two weeks ago, I was to go somewhere, and I spent more than three hours looking for a vehicle to take me there. I found none until I woke up. Reviewing my dream, I remembered that during my desperation to get a vehicle, I did not pray. Did Peter and his professional friends pray before the venture or when it was becoming a wild-goose chase? ‘We have toiled all night…’ True, but did they toil on their knees? As renowned fishermen, did they rely only on their professional competence? Did they not labour without Jesus?
Do we appreciate the need for prayers in distressed situations? ‘Why do you worry, when you can pray,’ we used to sing, ‘tell it to Jesus, Who knows the way…’ This is the problem. Many people do not pray. Some parents, in an attempt to correct their children, will curse and subject them to thorough beating and denial of privileges and yet, the children continue in their wrong ways. You find out that they never pray for those children. But how can they pray, when they do not know the God, Who answers prayers?
Peter and company toiled and caught nothing. Was that our experience in 2016, in our businesses, marriage, academic pursuits, etc. Was Jesus joking, when He said, ‘Without Me, ye can do nothing.’ Unlike Uncle Peter, we might have caught something, but was it good enough for you? Should our 2017 not, by far, be greater than our 2016? A cursory review of the various things we did in 2016 may be all revealing. Were we ever in a situation, where the brain was preferred to the spirit? Did we scheme things instead of praying? ‘Cast your net at the right side of the boat,’ Jesus advised them. This is the formulae for success – casting our nets in the proper way, in the Jesus way! This is why we need God in the things we do. Toiling without Jesus! Who would then tell Peter to raise revenue for their tax from the fish he would catch with gold in its mouth? Toiling without Jesus! Who then would use five loaves of bread and two fishes to feed 5,000 people? Toiling without Jesus is nothing but human effort and ‘By flesh shall no man prevail’.
Human effort will never lead us anywhere. Some people manipulate other people, it is even in the Church, so as to achieve a desired objective. That objective may be achieved but it will crumble overtime. It is better to allow God, Who knows the end from the beginning, to lead us. Joseph visited Jacob, his father, with his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. He wanted his father’s parting and special blessing for Manasseh, his first born. Applying human wisdom, he placed Manasseh strategically, in such a manner that his father, whose eyes, because of age, had gone dim, would bless him. It was Ephraim, the younger son, that received the blessing at the end of the day. God can frustrate our human effort!
What Jesus told Peter, a professional fisherman, to do could make no sense to anybody, but Peter submitted to it. ‘Nevertheless, I will… as Thou hast said,’ he confessed, and he did! The result was overwhelming. May it be your experience in 2017! The will of God prevailed in the lives of the two children, Manasseh and Ephraim, in spite of Joseph’s desire and his manipulation. Manasseh served Ephraim.
In this year of 2017, it will be better that we surrender our lives, our all, including our Manassehs and Ephraims, to the Lord Jesus. Let Him guide us all through and what He tells us to do, like Uncle Peter did, we will do gladly, even when it makes no sense to reason. I can guarantee that the result, at the end of the day, will be prolific. HAPPY NEW 2017!
For further comment, Please contact: Osondu Anyalechi: 0802 3002-471; [email protected]