Release the toll of toil

Posted: March 11, 2015 in Uncategorized

Using my vivid imagination let me set the hypothetical scene. A few boats launched out into the Lake of Gennesaret in the late evening, the occupants going forth with the expectation of catching the ever valuable fish that served as the source of their livelihood. As fishermen, working throughout the night was nothing new to them and since this was their craft, we can only imagine they expected to fulfill their mission with easy success. Perhaps they had not fathomed the possibility of failure at all. Yet, as time marched on, 9 pm became 12 am, 12 am became 3 am, 3 am became 6 am and before you knew it the sun had made its regular appearance. Still the fishermen’s nets were stark empty. Nothing! Zip! Zilch! Nada!

Surely they had put forth the proper effort. Surely they had done their part. As a matter of fact, Luke tells us that by the time Jesus met Peter and got in his boat, advising him to let his net down for a catch, Peter’s reply was, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word, I will let down the net” (Luke 5:4-5, NKJV).  Well, if you’re familiar with the story, Peter does lower the net as Jesus commanded, the fishermen catch such an abundance of fish that their nets start breaking and eventually they catch enough fish to fill two boat loads! Peter goes on to become one of Jesus’ key disciples, the foundation on which the Christian church was built, cements himself as one of the church’s greatest apostles and the rest is history as we know it. But besides the message highlighting the obvious power we have when we obey Jesus, the concept of toil jumped out to me in this passage. Especially as this unnatural phenomenon has become such a natural and accepted part of our reality. defines toil as : hard and continuous labor;  exhausting labor or effort. Merrian Webster goes on further to say it means: to work very hard for a long time; to move very slowly and with a lot of effort.

Yet God did not intend for toil to be the norm of human existence. Incidently, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden and ate from the forbidden tree, the oppression of toil was put on them and subsequently all of human kind as a type of curse   (Genesis 3:17). Yet Jesus died on the cross in payment for the sins of mankind to reconcile us back in relationship with God and break every curse over our lives, including the burden of toil. Notice toiling is counterproductive. It’s exhausting labor, with very little progression. I am not saying that we won’t have times of intense labor in life—we have to put forth effort physically, mentally and spiritually as we work collaboratively with God to fulfill our purpose in this life God has gifted us to live. But notice I said, brief periods of labor not continuous exhaustive labor. And Jesus certainly didn’t die for us to exhaust ourselves or furthermore labor in vain and not progress.

Consequently, toiling does not include just physical labor. Toil of the mind, emotions, soul and spirit is a regular habit for many. So often we engage in mental and emotional toil when we succumb to anxiety, worry and fear. We toil when we try to fix things that we are meant to entrust in faith to God. Having the mentality of a “fixer,” I know what it is to labor until I fix something and feel utter chaos when something is out of my control. But God is teaching me and calling us all to stop toiling and rest in Him. It doesn’t mean be lazy and put forth no effort in life; He simply means don’t engage in continuous, exhaustive labor with little to no progress. Rest in God is being productive, even with hard work but doing it with peace as much as possible. Realistically, we will all have a little fear and anxiety sometimes. It is a part of life. But don’t let it become your norm, your common place or your permanent pit stop. By no means am I insinuating this is an easy task, but we have to be intentional about rejecting the posture and mindset of toiling. Jesus says, “come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest” ( Matt 11:28). Jesus offers rest in every dimension of life. God intends us to sojourn through this life resting in the assurance of His power and love and armed with His peace.

So tell that toiling mentality to take a hike…and yet still I rise.

With peace and blessings, may you continue to rise always,



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