Better Fishing Practices
Father, use me to capture the hearts of these specific individuals who presently hold onto so much animosity towards me. You are reminding me of what You taught me some time ago about heaven's reward system. Your kind of rewards, which of course are the best kind to work for, are the bonds of joy formed between hearts when deep friendships are forged. The value of the reward is directly proportional to the difficultly encountered in trying to win someone into love-bonds with yourself and with God.
You taught me that if I would like to increase the value content of my rewards that I must be willing to push back with Your methods when people dislike me or even abuse me. Instead of reacting in kind, which is the normal mode in temptation, I am to love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me etc. You were not just giving some nice suggestions or throwing out clichés in Jesus' discourse on that mountain so long ago. You were describing incredible principles of reality that, if accepted and practiced would greatly enhance anyone's ability to enjoy far better rewards, both in this life and especially in the life to come.
The more antagonistic the opposition, the greater the reward potential when they are captured for heaven. Just as when in earthly conflicts, the winners of battles value their level of heroism by the difficultly of the battle and the strength of their opponents, so too in heaven's battle for souls, the more fierce the opposition the greater the victory when the opponents are the most intimidating.
Saul of Tarsus was described as acting most ferociously against the early Christians and terrorized them with his persecution. Most of them were so intimidated that they may have failed to remember the counsel of Jesus regarding their enemies. But not so I believe with Barnabas.
Barnabas, in my opinion, took the problem of Saul into the context of Jesus' counsel and saw an incredible opportunity to catch one of the biggest fish in the sea. What others saw as a most dangerous threat to the early church, he viewed as a glorious opportunity to put to the test the words of Jesus and demonstrate their validity. I believe that Barnabas began earnestly praying specifically for Saul and refused to give up until the Holy Spirit used those prayers as the supernatural permission by which God was able to break through Saul's defenses and capture his heart for heaven.
Later on when Saul was rebuffed by the still frightened leaders of the church, Barnabas was the only person who had the right perspective because of his prayers for Saul and the incredible answer that had been given Barnabas was the only one not afraid to come along side Saul in friendship and trust and to become the intermediary to reconcile Saul with those he had formerly terrorized. This is one of the best examples of the principle of 'joy' which is the very essence of heaven's reward system that can be found in the Bible.
Now I am facing a similar situation, albeit at a far less dramatic level at this point. I am just being given some simple practice sessions compared to what the early church faced; but practice sessions are what are needed to prepare one for more intense but similar circumstances in the future just as all good schoolwork is designed to progress one in skill levels. God, You are in the business of training me and preparing me for much more intense future crisis when I will need to know how, through practical experiences, to love my enemies and not allow them to blind me to these amazing principles of life and love and truth.
In the process you are also offering me opportunities to begin catching fish now and begin enjoying some rewards now, even if these are not as big a fish as Saul was. If I learn how to cooperate with Your fishing lessons I will grow in my fishing skills and will be able to catch bigger and bigger fish with the bait of Your love.
Father, I am still very clumsy at this fishing thing, but I am willing to learn and want to start enjoying some of the results of catching fish for You. But You have a lot of training, instruction, mentoring and encouraging to do with me before I can take on any fish of significant size. The ones I am looking at right now are big enough for the present and seem overwhelming at this point. But I want to keep my eyes on You and how You are so skillful in landing big fish so that I can be brought into sympathy with Your heart and learn to treat people the same way You treat all of us. I want to be a good student so that You can transform me to be a better example of good fishing practices instead of trying to spear them or worse yet becoming a shark myself.