The third step in this service-call is this: practicality in service
: |Let down your nets.| I can imagine Peter saying, |Master, if we had known your plans for this morning, I would have sent up to Tyre for the newest patented nets, or down to Cairo. These nets of ours have been patched and patched. They are so old.| The Master says, |Let down your
There is a very common delusion that holds us back from doing something because we are not skilled in doing it. |Let the pastor speak to that young man; I can't do it very well.| |I can't teach very well; let some one else take that class.| The Master says, |Use what you have.| Do your best. Your best may not be the best, but if it be your best, it will be God-blest, and always bring a harvest.
Use what you have. Do not despise the stuff God put into you. Train and discipline it the best you can, and use it. And in using it you will be training it. The best training is in use. Brains and pains and prayer are an irresistible trinity. When the gray matter and the finger tips and the knees get into a combination great results always come.
The old Hebrew farmer Shamgar had only a long ox-goad with which to prod his beasts in the field. The traditional enemy, the Philistine, comes up over the hill. Shamgar's neighbors have taken to their heels. But Shamgar is made of different stuff. He asks a man hurrying by, |How many do you think there are?| And the man calls out, |About six hundred, I should say.|
Shamgar sets his jaws together hard, gets a fresh grip on his ox-goad, digs his heels into the ground for a good hold, and mutters to himself, |I guess they are about four hundred short.| And he smites, left and right, up and down, hip and thigh, with his strange weapon. And a great victory comes to the nation under its new leader.
David had only a leather sling, home-made likely, and a few smooth stones out of the running brook. He had skill in slinging stones, a keen trained eye, a steady nerve, a practiced arm, and well-knit muscles. But what were these against a giant almost twice his height and years, and armed to the teeth? Yet the ruddy-faced stripling had something better yet along with his sling and stones and skill. He had a simple trust in God. He had a hot protest in his heart against the slandering of God's people by this heathen giant. He combined all he had, sling, stones, skill, and faith, and the laughing, sneering giant is soon under his feet, and feeling the edge of his own sword. |Let down your nets.| Use what you have.
There was a woman living down by the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea a good while ago. Her heart had been touched by God, and ever after beat warm for others. But what could she do? She couldn't make speeches, nor write papers for the missionary society, nor preside over its meetings. She seemed to have one special gift. She could sew. She could do plain sewing and overcast, cross-stitch and hem-stitch. I suppose she knew the herring-bone-stitch and feather-stitch, and other sorts too.
And so she just busied herself finding out poor folks who needed clothing, some women too hard-worked to care for their children's clothing. And she sewed for them. She was a seamstress for Jesus' sake to all the needy folks she could find. I expect she stuck pretty closely to the plain stitching, though likely as not she would put in some of the fancy too to please the people she was winning to her Master.
And she sewed the story of Jesus, and the heart of Jesus, into coats and skirts and such. All through Joppa her message went into homes not otherwise open perhaps. And the women read the story of her heart in the stitches and they found Jesus through her needle. She used what she had. And the women of the church have rightly honored her name in their societies.
But mark keenly this: while using to the full, and faithfully, just what you have, there must needs be utter dependence upon God. Not what you have, nor what you can do, but Somebody in what you have, and through what you do. Notice, |Their nets were breaking.| They were to use their nets, but the power was somewhere else. As we are made up, there frequently needs to be a breaking before the glory of God is revealed. It need not be so, necessarily.
Yet as a matter of fact most people have to stub their toes and then go stumbling down with a clash, measuring their length on the earth, and getting some scars that stay before they can be mightily used. So many strong wills are strong enough to be stubborn, but not strong enough to yield. Gideon's pitchers had to be broken before the lights flashed out and brought panic to the enemy.
It was when the alabaster box was broken that its fine fragrance filled the house, and spread out into all the world. Somebody prayed, |O Lord, take me, and break me, and make me.| That is the usual order as a matter of fact. Yet if the strength of stubbornness that must be broken down to change its direction, were but swung God's way at once -- But most folks that have been greatly used have some of this sort of scars. Utter dependence upon God's strength in doing God's service is the lesson of the breaking nets.