I had planned to stick to a daily discipline of posting my Life Journals but illness interfered after day 1. So I pick it up here and move forward. If you want to see what I am reading each day and try this discipline for yourself , go to http://www.enewhope.org/nextsteps/journaling/.
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.”
Luke 5:4-5 NRSV
Jesus tells Simon to do what they had been doing all night without any fish. Yet he does what Jesus says. The following verses tell of a catch so overwhelming that it threatens to sink their boats. Jesus’ words are what cause Simon to do what he had been doing all along once again. Why does Simon do so at Jesus’ word when the evidence said they were done. Why does he let down the nets one final time?
It also seems that these men were tired – they had been fishing all night (it appears) and were preparing to put things away when Jesus shows up and commandeers their boats.
As a Christian leader I confess that I often want to make things better – to grow them bigger, to make them better, to tweak the at the very least. Sometimes that means asking if what we are doing in the church is growing the church in any measurable way – numerically, spiritually, missionally, etc. And I am forced to ask – not always with good result – is what I am doing growing me in a meaningful way – more humble, more loving, more like Christ?
This passage causes me to struggle with the question of how to know when to stop doing something. When do we say “It is time to put the nets away” over against “Let them down one more time?” I don’t know the answer. What can seem like faithfulness can also be slavish devotion to what makes us comfortable – our habits, our traditions, our known circle, our understandings.
For this story and these verses the key distinction is Jesus. It is because Jesus says so that Peter does what he had decided to stop doing. It is Jesus’ authority, Jesus’ presence, Jesus’ call that was not yet spoken but was reaching out to grab Peter and his partners that made them let down the nets.
Just that simple… and just that hard.
Lord Jesus, much of what I do is done out of habit, comfort, duty, and preference. I put my nets out when I think I should and put them away when I am done. Call me anew as Peter heard you call to let the nets down – to do what I do because you have said first and foremost. To minister because you call me to do and not because I am paid and employed to do so. To act not out of strategy or tactic first but first out of what you have said and because I have heard. Amen.