The following is an extract from Prepare Him Room: A Daily Advent Devotional by Susie Larson, out now from Bethany House.
One day while Jesus preached on the shores of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on Him to listen to the word of God. Jesus noticed two empty boats at the water's edge. One boat belonged to Peter. Jesus stepped into the boat, and they pushed out into the water. Once Jesus had finished speaking, He told Peter, "Now go out where it is deeper and let down your nets to catch some fish."
Peter was a seasoned fisherman. He knew the drill. But he was getting to know Jesus and learning to trust Him. Peter replied to the Lord, "We worked hard all last night and didn't catch a thing, but if you say so, I'll let the nets down again." Imagine the scene. Peter's got a five-o'clock shadow. He probably smells. He's tired. He's already gone through the motions too many times to count. But with Jesus, sub-traction precedes multiplication. Humility precedes honor and breakthrough.
Jesus led the disciples out to the deep and asked Peter to try again. So Peter humbly took a deep breath, exhaled, and tried again. This time their nets were so full of fish, the fishermen's nets began to tear. They weren't prepared for such a catch!
I'm not much of a cook, but I know there's a process called reduction whereby you thicken and intensify the flavor of something by allowing it to simmer or boil. You may start with two cups of liquid and end up with a fourth of a cup.
Every serious Christ follower I've ever met has gone through a season or process of reduction. The not-so-serious Christian may hop out of the pan when the temperature rises. But for those who humbly follow Jesus through those seasons of refinement, they will see God do a miraculous work in and through them.
Trust Jesus even though He reduces you. Understand that He is in the process of increasing you, of adding to your spiritual credibility and multiplying your impact on the world.
Notice that the fishermen caught so many fish that their trusty nets tore! Stress is part of growth; it's part of the multiplication process. When God grows you and increases your influence, you will feel stretched beyond your ability.
But God is with you!
What to do? Look at what Peter did. He called in re-inforcements. God designed us to make this journey alongside others. We'll never become all we can be apart from deep, abiding friendships with others. But you'll never fully realize your need for intimate friends who will shoulder your burden until you're in a position to steward a calling that's bigger than you are.
Peter was so awestruck by the catch that he was suddenly aware of his humanity. He asked Jesus to leave his presence because God's glory felt too holy for Peter's story. But Jesus knew exactly what He was doing and whom He was using.
It's the same with us. When God does a new thing in us, the enemy is often right there to accuse us of our weakness, our past, and our frailties. But these are precisely why we need a Savior. Praise God. We have one!
Often, we think that when God moves us from subtraction to multiplication, we'll finally feel the validation our hearts imagine. But the converse is true. Most times, when God promotes us, new levels of insecurity arise within us. Pro-motions and increase don't solve anything for us in the way of identity. But they allow us to address some of the world's problems when we're willing to steward them by faith.
As we journey through this Advent season, may we remember that we live in a world of overindulgence, over-commitment, premature multiplication, and shortcuts, and shortcuts almost always lead to compromise. What if we did something otherworldly this season? What if we slowed our pace and reduced our intake? What if we instead took in the sights, the scents, and decided to be fully present this season?
What if we gave God time and space to speak to us about our needs, our hopes, and His intentions toward us? Now's a perfect time to ponder anew that first Jesus came as a baby but next He'll return as a King. And He knows your name.
There's a way to enjoy the beauty of the season and encounter the living Savior. Instead of numbing your pain and setting aside your heartbreak until after the holiday season, give your burdens to Jesus as you celebrate Him this Christmas. Ask Him to show you what He's subtracting from you that He may add and multiply His influence in you! Christmas is the perfect time to receive a prophetic word from the living God about your very real life. This is why He came. To seek and save the lost. To destroy the works of the devil. And to transform you into someone you never dreamed you could be.
Re-published from Christian Today UK.