Inside His Control

by Dave Perry, September 29, 2019


Ever tried to rule over a school of fish? Or a room of first graders? Or your own (chaotic?) thoughts?

The Big Story began with God appointing mankind to rule: “Let them rule over the fish of the sea…and over the livestock and over all the earth…” (Genesis 1:26). And notice the first thing on the rule-over list: fish (!).

This may strike us as odd. Ruling over sheep and cattle (“livestock”)? Sure, we get that. But schools of cod in the north Atlantic? If you’re fishing, it’s cast your net and hope for the best. We can’t make the fish swim toward the net. If “casting and hoping” is “ruling”, it’s ruling something we can’t control.

Fast forward from Genesis to the gospels. Jesus’ first, curtain-opener public sign was a fish-catch miracle (Luke 5:1-11). And his curtain closer? His final, pre-ascension sign? Another miraculous fish-catch! (John 21:1-8). He bookended his public ministry with enabling miracles: signs that empowered people to rule over things they couldn’t, on their own, control.

Both scenes began with weary, up-all-night fishermen and no fish. Both had a “cast your net” command. And both ended with net-ripping abundance.

Back in Genesis: Ruling, it turned out, wasn’t just about cod. It was about character. God warned angry, resentful Cain that sin was “crouching at the door” – and called him to “rule over it” (Genesis 4:7). Another “rule” command, but this time it wasn’t about animals.

At least twice, Paul talked about ruling. Believers were meant to “reign in life” (Romans 5:17), and to rely on the Holy Spirit and exercise “self-control” (Galatians 5:23). That is, to do what God told Cain: to rule themselves.

Christ came to win us forgiveness for our sins. Yes. But he also came to restore the Genesis 1:26 mandate, “Let them rule.” Even fish!

So: How do we rule what we can’t control? The answer is in those two fish-catch miracles. In both, the disciples had been up all night, with no success. In both, Jesus commanded the them to cast their nets. In both, they obeyed. In both, hundreds of fish swam into the nets. That net-casting was an act of faith: “[At] your word I will let down the nets” (Luke 5:5). Could Simon make the fish swim into the nets? No. He knew fish were outside his control – but not outside Christ’s.

Ditto the off-the-wall-first graders. Ditto, at times, our emotions and thoughts (Psalm 13:2, 42:5; 2 Corinthians 2:13; 7:5). Ditto the sin at Cain’s door. On any given day, “ruling” will bring let-down-the-net choices (things Christ call us to do). As well as fish down deep, and outside our control.

But not outside his.