And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” Luke 5:10
When I was a boy my father bought a 1949 Ford pickup for $50.00. He told me that if I would help him clean it out he would let me keep whatever I found. I was about five years old and my mind immediately went to: packs of gum, loose change of nickels, dimes and quarters—real treasure.
I had my little Wisk Broom and a grocery sack for trash and sundry other pearls of great price. I swept out the passenger side, reached far underneath the bench seat for paper wrappings, cigarette butts, and a penny or two. Then my dad said, “I will lean the seat forward and you clean out the area behind the seat.”
I climbed up on the running board so that I could see behind the tilted seat-back and I saw what looked like a rolled-up blanket. I grabbed one end of the blanket and tugged at it. It was heavy. I thought it was hung up on something so I pulled harder. I could barely move it. I called for my dad. He opened the driver side door and looked behind the seat and said, “What have you found, son?” He pulled it out and unrolled the blanket. In the blanket was a Remington Ithaca single shot .22-caliber rifle.
My dad reached up and squeezed my thin shoulders and said, “Congratulations, son, your first gun.” I was five years old. I remember feeling very grown up. I still have the gun.
An ugly old junk truck turned out to be more than either of us bargained for.
We think it is going to be one thing – maybe something unattractive – but it is more than we think it is, and it has a bigger pay off than we expect.
Peter thinks he is a fisherman, but Jesus says I will make you a fisher of people – that is you will bring people into a relationship with God. Jesus takes who Peter is, what Peter does, and he transforms it into something of eternal significance.
When you and I REALLY begin to follow Jesus, not just go to church but really follow him, he takes our passions, our skills, our gifts and redirects them toward his bigger purpose, and we become more than we think we are.
My surveyor friend, Rick, told me one time that when he drives in a stake at a job site he prays for the residents in the housing development that will one day live there.
Another friend, Justin, told me that he prays silently for his patients that come to see him in his clinic and then when appropriate as the relationship develops he asks those that share trials with him if he can pray for them.
But following Jesus also means that we will have to take some risks just because he says so.
In this story, Jesus tells Peter to put the nets out even though they had fished all night and had not caught anything. It is a crazy thing for Jesus to say – Peter, after all, is the fishing expert. And Jesus, after all, is only a preacher. What does he know about fishing?
We often think we are the expert in our lives, but really Jesus is, and he asks us to do two things: Trust him – since he made us he knows what’s best for us. And obey what he tells us to do.
Some of you know that I have been known to get sick and come close to feinting in hospitals. When there have been times when I would mention this to my wife before going to see someone in the hospital and she would say, “Why are you complaining? You know that God always gets you through it and you always come home with some wonderful story about how you were touched or ministered after having gone.”
And sure enough every time I would go, I’d come back just pumped because on more than one occasion after I prayed for the sick person they would ask if they could pray for me and my family. Wow. Because I trusted and obeyed, I was blessed.
Now I kinda look forward to folks getting sick enough to go to the hospital so I can get blessed.
In this story Jesus borrows Peter’s boat to do some teaching in the shallow water, and when he is done teaching, he says to Peter, “Put out into deeper water and let down your nets for a catch.” I think that is a good description of where many of us – including me – are at in our faith journey.
Perhaps you have paddled around in the shallow water listening to Jesus’ teachings, going to church, hearing sermons, but are not applying what you know—and unapplied truth is useless.
I heard a Christian counselor say, “People want you to fix in a counseling session what they’ve rejected in a sermon.”
In this story it is the teaching and head knowledge that represents the shallow water—depth is DOING the things that Jesus asks us to do.
We’ve hear a lot about what we are saved from, but not about what we are saved for. What we are saved for is to receive an invitation from God himself to participate with him in seeing his Kingdom come on earth just as surely as it exists in heaven.
Put out into deeper water and lower your nets for a catch the likes of which you have never seen. If God seems unreal, shallow or small, perhaps you are still paddling around in shallow water.
And yeah, it’s scary to think about putting out into that deeper water. I get that. But remember this: There is no deep, but that he isn’t deeper. There is no future so uncertain, but that he knows the way.
If you are willing to trust him, he can do amazing things—that will surprise you. You will get more than you bargained for.
Trust and obey,
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
But to trust and obey.