Having enough

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The fear of not having enough can be a very powerful influence on our behaviour. I notice it with time. My anxiety about not having enough time leads me to try to get ahead – to make myself late by trying to get one more job done – which often makes me rushed and then unable to really enter into or enjoy the thing I should be doing. Or maybe I stay late, trying to get through unending list – and then I get worn out.

Sometimes our fear is not having enough energy – so rather than taking a rest we push on, facing down our anxiety, and depleting our resources. Sometimes it’s not having enough money – which may be a real issue, or may be a hang over from  what we were taught by our parents – so we’re constantly on the lookout for ways to save money – like the Amazon order I put in today, saving on the delivery cost but causing me the anxiety of waiting for the thing I need to arrive.

Sometimes the underlying is not having enough love – so we may desperately seek love and approval in unhelpful ways, and even fashion our whole life around the search for this need we have deep inside us.

The story we’ve just heard has something to say about the fear of not having enough. The disciples are at a loose end, so they go back to what they know – fishing. But despite their best efforts, they fish all night and catch nothing – as they tell, perhaps rather irritably, to the stranger on the shore. When they are then given the direction to try again, they could have refused – just cracked on doing things their way – trying again that night. But they do as Jesus says, and now they take in a huge catch.

You have a strong sense that this is not just about a miracle showing that Jesus is alive – John tells this story because he wants us to understand something about trust, and responding to Jesus, and what that makes possible. Even after a whole night fishing – even when our time and energy and hope have completely run out – even then, and maybe especially then, turning to Jesus can make all the difference.

The second part of the story takes this further. It is not so long since Peter has denied three times that he even knew Jesus. He is very aware that he has failed – he clearly does not have enough courage, or enough reliability, to be the ‘rock’ – the leader that Jesus said he would be. But Jesus asks him three questions, focussing just on the love which Jesus knows is in his heart. That is enough. He may sometimes fail to trust Jesus – but Jesus trusts him. So he receives again the call – ‘feed my sheep’ – and he hears a promise – not an easy one – that one day he will have the courage and faith to follow Jesus in the way of the cross.

A few years ago I came back from a long retreat with a new understanding. I suddenly felt less responsible for everything – and especially for money. I started said to Sarah, when issues came up, ‘It’s all Jesus’s money’ –  which was probably very annoying, and could be very simplistic and unhelpful – and is easier to say if you’re not on the breadline. But I know that the fear of not having enough in that way is no longer mine to hold. Next I think I need to work on time…

I wonder what fears of ‘not having enough’ colour your life?

Lord, you know fears we have about not having enough – enough energy or time, enough money, enough love – whatever they might be…

Help us to learn to bring those fears to you, and to learn to trust you in a deeper way…

We pray for those whose needs are very immediate and very real… those on the other side of the world, and those we know… May we, like Peter, be part of the way that you meet and help people in their need…

We thank you, Lord, that however we see ourselves, you love us & trust us to be your people for the world. Help us to live out your belief in us…

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