God Watch: Following God in His Work
Read: John 21
Focus Passage: Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” John 21:17b-22 NIV
I’ve often wondered why I haven’t been able to work in gyms since I moved to Michigan. My resume’ and work history are stellar. My personal training work comes with glowing recommendations. One of my passions is to help people improve their lives through health and fitness from a Christian viewpoint. Yet, God has a different plan for me. He called me to write in the Spring of 2011, but I set it on the back burner until 2015. I established myself as a health and fitness pro after my first husband died in August of 2011. When my Boaz and I were engaged, while I prepared to move for our wedding, some of my clients and gym members came and thanked me for something I had done for them. These unsolicited accolades come within two weeks’ time. I hadn’t put in my notice with my boss yet to move to Michigan, so they didn’t know I was leaving. This odd occurrence was noteworthy because I detected a significance to these unsolicited thank-you’s—they all sought me out in a short period of time. God was up to something. What was it?
As it turned out, God confirmed my call to write, and I began doing so. Health and fitness work took on a different setting. Over the past seven years of marriage to my Boaz, our culture has become so ridiculously entrenched in New Age–not just in gyms. Personal trainers and exercise instructors are indoctrinated in Buddhist and Hindu religious ideologies disguised under the Wellness umbrella. Such fitness certification courses include teaching meditation. Fitness pros are expected to lead clients and class members in various Eastern meditative practices. I refuse to do so. Either I will remain neutral, or I will work from a Biblical Christian perspective. Christian managers protected me in the past in private health clubs, although limits had been set. Would I be free to continue to do so? Evidently, God has other ideas, but health and fitness has taken on a different platform. Going on a God watch helps us recognize God’s work in our lives that we might follow Him on His adventure for us.
Looking Into the Bible
In our passage, Jesus appeared to the disciples after he had been crucified and buried. Peter, James and John (sons of Zebedee), Nathaniel, Thomas, and two unnamed disciples were lost. Their friend and teacher, Jesus, was gone. The only thing Peter knew was fishing, so he went back to his old way of life. Why not? Life turned upside down for him and the disciples, causing a desire for some sense of stability the best they could grasp. So he and the other disciples hopped into Peter’s boat and fished all night but came up empty-netted.
Unrecognized, Jesus appeared onshore, asking them if they have any fish. He drew them to something familiar that helped them recognize him. He told them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. An outrageous number of fish overloaded their nets, but their nets didn’t tear this time! Who recognized him first? It wasn’t Peter, like in the past, but John, who refers to himself as “the one Jesus loved.” Jesus loved all of the disciples, but John believed Jesus loved him more. There is nothing weird or immoral going on rather a strong sense of personal relationship with the Lord. Peter might have questioned his faith. Was his faith misplaced? Obviously not.
Exhausted, they were greeted by fish breakfast cooked on the fire by Jesus. From where did these fish baking on the coals come? Peter suddenly became the focus of a discussion often preached. Instead of camping out in this dialog, I would rather take you to our focus passage. Jesus called Peter to become a shepherd of people. Shepherding and fishing are two very different occupations. He wanted Peter to lead people to Him and nurture their newfound faith, but doing so meant leaving behind his old way of life for good. In his case, he would lose his physical life for the sake of the Gospel. Jesus told Peter he needn’t worry about the other disciples but obediently follow Jesus.
He did precisely that. My husband and I saw Peter’s house in Capernaum near the shore of the Sea of Galilee. His house had been expanded to seat people. Over the top of it is a modern Franciscan Catholic church that looks a bit like a space saucer above Peter’s house church, which can be viewed through a window in the sanctuary floor. The place where Jesus cooked fish now has a church that occupies that space to commemorate this event. There is a small area raised where steps at the back had broken down. Bible scholars believe that the small raised area is where he cooked fish for Peter and the disciples.
The Rest of My Story
God’s call for me to write is a form of Bible teaching and discipleship. Be Totally Fit for Life! allows me to continue working within health and fitness from a Christian perspective, but not in gyms. Instead, I lead Healthy Lifestyles groups in churches and online. I blog and write articles on Christian health, fitness, and wellness, and God’s adventures. I also write about several other topics which also teach Biblical principles. I would have a hard time working in gyms because now my Christian viewpoint probably wouldn’t be tolerated Whether it is a Bible study like this one, devotions in Wit, Whimsy & Wisdom, or a personal story, my writing helps readers connect their experiences to God’s Word and work in their lives. I must follow Him in this call. I can’t see myself doing anything else.
Second, my allergies to dust mites, which thrive in gyms, and mixed connective tissue disease, limit me making it difficult to train in gyms and studios. I need to control my own schedule and environment to accommodate my health issues. Even though I tried to jump back into the health and fitness scene, I had to leave an old way of life to follow God’s call. We must be willing to leave our past behind and scurry after God to experience the blessings of taking part in His God Adventure.
Turning the Tables
Do you find yourself having a difficult time seeing God at work in your life? Do you feel like giving up because you don’t think He cares? What do you constantly return to only to find out you no longer can? I’ve encountered many people who would have been stellar in the area where they relentlessly pursued their dreams, only to become unable to do so.
- A worship pastor who planned to become a professional trumpet player, but developed Bell’s Palsy. Although still an excellent trumpet player, he became disqualified as a professional musician. God called him to become a pastor utilizing his knowledge and love of music to minister in churches.
- A woman who loved to sing planned to become a professional singer. Her voice was “taken away,” that is, she developed hoarseness to her singing voice from an unknown cause making her dream evaporate. Her speaking voice was tremendous and unaffected, though. Instead, God used her speaking voice to encourage others and teach the Bible to children in one of our churches.
- A church-planting pastor was well on his way to fulfill his dream of ice skating in the Olympics. His plan was shattered, as were the bones of one leg when he landed improperly performing a complicated jump spin. God called him to plant churches and disciple the people who came to his church.
There are so many more stories like these.
If God has taken your dream away, what is He calling you to do? Giving up and going back to what you used to do is no longer an option. Watch and pray. Keep asking Him, “Why?” and, “What now?” Go on a God Watch. It is the best way to hear and see His answers to your questions. Then move on toward the call He has given you. You must follow Him because you won’t be able to see yourself do anything else.
How can I pray for you? Feel free to share in the comments below, a comment form on my website, or email me at email@example.com. I’m praying for abundant blessings for you!
Note: the links lead to resources used in this blog post.