I love sunrises, but I don’t see them much. I am not up at the crack of dawn on most mornings. Occasionally I will see the breaking of the day. However, my morning usually begins long after the sun has made its appearing. The breaking of the day is seen as a new beginning, but I was struck recently by a couple of sermons that pointed out that daybreak was the end of the night; not the beginning of something, but the end of something.
The first passage was taught from John 21:1-13. It was the end of the time when Jesus walked the earth, but before the Holy Spirit descended. This is the passage where Peter decided to go fishing and some of the other disciples followed him. After Jesus rose again but had yet to ascend back to heaven, Peter went back to what he knew to do. Jesus was not with the disciples on a constant basis anymore. There was uncertainty of the future now. I assume Peter had no clue what he should do next. So he went back to what he knew to do. Peter was unsuccessful in that night’s fishing expedition though. They caught nothing. Now what?
Scripture says it was early in the morning when Jesus showed up on the shore (verse 4). The disciples were not in the place where they were supposed to be. Jesus found them doing what they knew to do at that time. Jesus directed them to fish the other side of the boat. All night long they had been fishing their favorite spots and caught nothing. The blessing happened at the end of the night after they struggled with those nets all night long. One word from Jesus redirected their efforts, and they were surprised by the abundance; so surprised that they counted the number of fish and recorded it!
The second passage was taught from Genesis 32:22-31. This passage finds Jacob about to encounter his brother whom he had deceived. He sent all his possessions and family across the stream so that he could be alone. That night, a man from God wrestled with Jacob; all night long they struggled against one another. Day was breaking and the man wanted to be released, but Jacob would not let the man go until he received a blessing. Jacob was touched by the man and received an injury that caused him to limp. But in that interaction, Jacob received a new name. No longer was he going to be called Jacob which means “deceiver” but Israel which means “he struggles with God.” The man blessed Jacob there, at the end of the night or daybreak. It was the end of the old and the beginning of the new.
The thing that has been suggested through these passages is that God has His own timetable. He is never late; He is never early, but He is always there at the time we need Him. He always is there when we are at the end of ourselves. When we finally come to the end of ourselves, God will meet us there. Sometimes we find ourselves like Peter wondering “now what?” Jesus came to him to redirect Peter’s path. The next section in John talks about that redirection. Peter was no longer going to fish at the lake, but fish for men. Peter was going to catch them, and Jesus was going to clean them.
I think that’s what we’re all called to do. We have to get rid of all our baggage; the things that keep us from experiencing a greater presence of His Spirit. When the Holy Spirit came to Peter, the fire of the Spirit changed the landscape of the face of discipleship. The Holy Spirit changed everything. We have to quit wrestling with God over keeping our lives separate from Him. That’s not who we are supposed to be. We are to be set apart, but it’s with the Holy Spirit’s help that we do these things. Personally, I am tired of fighting. I am ready for daybreak, aren’t you?
And he (Jesus) said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. Luke 9:23-24 (ESV)