Inconvenience

I was well familiar with the story of Peter’s long night of fishing with no results. After he had come in for the day and Jesus used his boat to speak to the people, Jesus told Peter to put out his nets again. This time the catch was so large that the net broke, causing Peter to realize his sinfulness and Jesus’s power and holiness.

What I don’t remember noticing before in this story, until last Sunday in church, was the inconvenience of it all (though inconvenience wasn’t the main point of the message or the passage, that aspect provided food for thought for the next day or two). Luke 5:2 says the fishermen were out of their boats and washing their nets. They were done for the day. Then they were asked to go back out, at the “wrong” time of day, to a place that had seemed fishless just a few hours earlier.

I worked for a few years at a fabric shop, and one night just before closing a girl came in to look at fabrics for her wedding. I think all of us who worked there either slumped or looked visibly dismayed: that kind of encounter at the store could take hours, and we were all set to go home. The girl noticed our reaction and immediately turned around and left the store. I’ve always felt bad about that – not only did we lose a customer and look highly unprofessional, but we put a damper on what is usually a fun time in a girl’s wedding planning. So I can imagine a little what Peter’s feeling might have been at being told to put his nets back out after he had just come in and cleaned up his equipment.

I began to remember a few other Biblical incidents of inconvenience:

I’m sure there are multitudes of other Biblical examples.

I thought of incidences in my own life when I’ve struggled with convenience vs. obedience:

  • When I was in the middle of something, like making dinner, and my child disobeyed, and I was tempted to “let it go this time” rather than stop what I was doing to deal with him
  • When I’ve cozied up on the couch with a good book and remembered that I haven’t spent any time in the Bible yet that day
  • When I have felt an inner prompting to speak to someone about the Lord and convinced myself it wasn’t the right time or place.
  • When someone interrupted my writing time just when I was experiencing an unusual flow of thought and expression or when I wanted to get a certain amount finished before stopping

I’m sure there have been many other similar incidences here also.

Once when I was in college, a few girls became aware of a certain student’s financial need. Most of us were struggling financially ourselves and did not have any extra to give to anyone else. I can’t remember the exact details now, but I remember news of the situation was passed to about four people before someone was able to chip in and help her. At the time I wondered why God didn’t just prompt the fourth person directly about the need instead of going through such a circuitous route. I don’t know all the reasons, but surely one was that this way, more people were aware of the need and more people glorified God when the answer was provided.

In the situation with Peter, the fact that Jesus told him to put out his net in the daytime after an unsuccessful night of fishing brought more glory to Christ and showed more of His power. Even though Jesus had healed Peter’s mother-in-law earlier, somehow this incident with the great catch of fish affected Peter much more, causing him to fall “down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.‘” I’ve heard preachers point out from this incident that God touches us not just in our area of weakness, but in our area of strength. Perhaps seeing Jesus’s abundant power and provision in what had been Peter’s area of expertise was what finally brought Peter to his knees.

For the widow of Zarephath, not only were her and her son’s needs provided for miraculously, but the very prophet who so inconveniently asked for her last food in such desperate times was the instrument through which God healed her son.

Sometimes inconveniences are just part of living in a fallen world – we don’t know why they happen, and all we can do is try to take them patiently. Sometimes they test our love, our obedience, our willingness to sacrifice for the sake of others. Sometimes they show us our wrong priorities. Sometimes they remind us of our need to rely on Him. But we can see God’s hand through, in spite of, or even because of the inconveniences He allows. He inconvenienced Himself for our sakes: may we be willing to allow Him to inconvenience us for His sake.

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Tell His Story, Coffee for Your Heart, Porch Stories, Faith on Fire)

8 thoughts on “Inconvenience

  1. I’ve had similar thoughts over the years. It seems many times in the past, when I was at my weakest – maybe weary after no sleep, stressed with deadlines approaching, or sick with a killer headache – that someone would come to me with a need. And I would think, “Now? All the time you could have come to me before, you choose now?” I have since learned that that was exactly the right time to make sure I didn’t get in the way and that He got the glory and not me. And He always came through for that other person no matter how badly I felt I performed. Inconvenience? I think that might just be one of His favorite MOs! lol

  2. Very good post and things to think on for a while. It is hard to understand at the time why or how inconvenience can be part of God’s plan…but then remember that nothing comes to me but what it has first gone through God’s hand. He has a plan regardless of our unwillingness to see it.

  3. Okay, first of all — I love the photo!! Did you take it? Now I’m curious where that occurred. Second, you raise such good points, as usual. I’m reading through the Bible in 2 years and am getting a bit bogged down in Deuteronomy. I find myself reading mainly to finish the day’s assignment, and wish I were getting more lessons learned from it. I’ve honestly thought, “I wish I had Barbara here!”

    • No, I didn’t take the photo. I looked through Word Swag trying to think what picture would depict inconvenience and searched for “traffic jam.” This came up in the results, and it just fit! 🙂

      Leviticus through Deuteronomy is tough going sometimes. I’ve been reading through in the ESV Study Bible lately, and it helps shed light on some aspects. It would be fun to do Bible study together!

  4. You ask some good questions, Barbara! When our girls were little, I struggled with the interruptions. But believe me, when your kids grow up you never think, ‘Oh, I spent too much time with my kids!’ I like how you point out that since Jesus inconvenienced himself for us, it’s the least we can do for one of the ones he loves.

  5. How well you’ve summed it all up in that last paragraph. Whatever God’s purpose in the inconveniences we experience, we do well to pause and look around for opportunities.

  6. The photo in the beginning did give me a good chuckle. It’s interesting that I read this now after I have had several discussions in the last while of how instead of getting all freaked out or feeling put out we have to look at interruptions and inconveniences in a new light and ask if it’s not God’s hand in the matter. Something to definitely think about.

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