I watch the fishermen with their nets.
I watch as they pull up their nets.
Nets full of flopping fish. Scared and panicking.
I know how they feel.
I know how it feels to be caught.
And I hate it.
I pray and I study and I ask God to help me.
Help me to not get caught by the schemes and traps of the enemy.
God reminds me that this enemy has big nets.
And that he studies me.
And he waits.
But God has promised me that He is stronger. That He will answer my call for help.
The fishermen I watch are kind and good.
They share their catch with us.
They know Ethan's name.
They are daddys and grandpas.
But God reminds me of the one that has nets that aren't good.
He is evil and deceitful, and he knows which nets to throw.
"The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, "Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?" Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden," the woman replied. "It's only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat." God said, "You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do you will die." "You won't die!" the serpent replied to the woman. God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil." Genesis 3:1-4
Eve's enemy, the serpent, used a net from the box labeled "God's not good. He's holding out on you."
And he caught her with it.
He has used that same net with me.
"As he did with Eve in the garden, Satan wants to get you to question the value of all the trees that God deemed as acceptable by getting you to focus on the one tree He has said to avoid. The lies of the Enemy cause us to think God has withheld at least some of His blessings from us. In Eve's case it was the fruit from the forbidden tree, but it could be almost anything for you." Tony Evans, from Victory in Spiritual Warfare
The enemy constantly points out the trees in my garden that have a "no" sign or a "not now" sign on them.
Sometimes he whispers. Sometimes he yells. "If only God would take those signs down and let you have them, then ..."
He argues that they are good things. He argues that they are needed and that other people have them and that it's just not fair.
The enemy's favorite words seem to be "if only."
God's making me wiser, but I still get caught.
I find myself panicked, scared and ashamed when I realize I've been caught in the "God's not good" net.
The only way out of this net, or any net, is Grace.
I can fight it. I can squirm and look for a hole to swim through. I can beat myself up and call myself stupid. I can beg and cry for freedom but there's only one way out. And that way is always, and alone, God's Grace.
God's Grace frees me, but it is gratitude that keeps me from getting caught.
Gratitude for all the trees in my garden that He has said "yes" to.
Gratitude for all the trees that I don't deserve.
Gratitude for the trees that range in size from a fleeting moment to eternal life.
But there's another gratitude, the hard gratitude, that gives thanks for the trees that are marked "no."
Gratitude for the trees that are marked, "Not for you Cheri." or "Not now Cheri. You must wait."
I pray for wisdom and focus.
I pray to stay out of the net.
He has heard my cry.
He is teaching me.
But it is a life-long lesson.
And that is why the tree in my garden I am most thankful for is named "Grace. "
"So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of His call. May He give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with Him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ."
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12