My dad really enjoys fishing, when we were little he’d take us down the street to the lake in the late afternoon when the sun was starting to sink into the western edge of the lake to fish. He’d slide the worm on to the hook for us- we didn’t mind fishing but we weren’t about to touch that worm, and then we’d cast it out into the water and wait…
And wait some more.
Soon my sister Brianna’s little red and white bobber floating out in the middle of the murky water was slipping back toward shore and she’d cast it out again. The process would go on and on as each minute passes without a nibble she’d reel it back in and toss it back out again. Her frustration growing with each reel in and cast out she’d finally give up and we’d pack up our gear and head home.
Have you ever found yourself in a place where you were investing way more time and energy and resources in something than you thought it was going to take? And no matter how hard you work at it, how many times you throw your line back out on to the water you still come back empty-handed? You find yourself coming back disappointed, frustrated, weary and ready to give up. Embarrassed because you have little or nothing to show for everything you’ve invested.
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. Luke 5:1-3 NIV
In this season, at this moment He had given up- in this season that boat represented all of his frustration and disappointment. So when Jesus comes walking along the shore He finds the boats temporarily abandoned and the fisherman mending their nets.
It’s ok to step back, to take a moment and clean and repair your nets, to refuel- as long as you get back out there.
The story goes on to say that the crowd eagerly crowding around Jesus, hungry to hear His words, desperate to touch even the hem of his garment -when was the last time we were that desperate to be with Him?- that he found himself pushed to the very edge of the shore, and in the middle of all that noise, with the crowd pressing in on all sides, right in the midst of all that chaos Jesus saw Simon and his boat. One fisherman who’d had a bad night.
There is so much hope in that verse- despite all of those people, despite the noise, the voices calling for His attention He saw Simon- and He sees you. You lost in the middle of your own storm, He sees you and He cares. He cares about every little thing that touches your life if He didn’t care He never would have seen Simon in that crowd.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m disappointed and frustrated people around me know it. Jesus knew what had transpired on that lake, He knew the frustration Simon was feeling, the disappointment that clung to Him, He knew the weary thoughts that were bouncing around Simon’s head and the bible says that Jesus approached and stepped into Simon’s boat. He stepped into the very thing that represented his disappointment and frustration and sat down.
I can’t help but think about another boat scene that we are told about in scripture, the disciples had spent the night straining against a might storm- and Jesus got into their boat and the storm became still.
We serve a God who comes to us, who steps into the midst of our storm, into our abandoned boat. He comes and meets us right in the middle of our need. He doesn’t demand we come to Him- He races to us and scoops us up into His loving arms, He steps into our mess, and plucks us from the waves.
We serve a God who spoke the world into existence, and still finds time to meet us right where we are. A God who takes what we think is worthless, and turns it into a platform to proclaim His goodness.
When Jesus had finished speaking the bible says He told them to push out into deeper water and let down their nets. Simon’s response is so honest you can almost hear his weary sigh- When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” Luke 5:4-5 NIV
But because you say so… can you feel the sigh in there? The doubt, the admission of his frustration as agrees to try one more time.
Have you ever noticed how God likes to take the very thing we want to get away from, the places we wish we could have skipped and He steps into them? He turns the useless, worthless place into a megaphone to tell the world about Him. God called Simon back to the boat he’d abandoned and then used that boat to teach others.
Now as Simon pushes out into the deeper water following Jesus’s directions- directions that flew in the face of all of his experience. You didn’t fish in deep water, and certainly not in the middle of the day. I can’t help but wonder if he stole a look back at the shore to see if any of his buddies had noticed them letting down their nets.
If you’ve ever heard the voice of God, you know that sometimes it doesn’t make sense– it goes against our instincts and asks us to do what the world calls foolish. Like building an ark when no one even knows what rain is, the bible is full to the brim of examples. We find ourselves called toward deep water in much the same boat as Simon when He replies “But because you say so, I will…”
I think sometimes God lets the decks of our lives be emptied of what we want to fill it with so that there is room for His stuff. If Simon had caught the fish he thought he should have been catching there would have been no room for Jesus.
Maybe those places of hurt, of disappointment, of frustration, those places where you feel like you’ve failed- those situations that you’ve invested and invested ourselves in only to have little or nothing to show for it. Those moments where we’ve drug our nets back to shore exhausted are the divine setup for Jesus to show up on the shore of your life, step into the very thing we wanted so desperately to get away from and turn it into something great. A living breathing testament of what happens when He invades the life of someone sold out for Him.
He takes the broken, frustrated, abandoned, wind tossed pieces and fits them back together, filling it with Himself and uses it to show others His goodness. If He’s leaving a hole in your life- don’t worry he hasn’t missed a piece. He hasn’t forgotten you in the midst of the crowd. He’s simply going to fill that place with Himself. Give Him your abandoned boats and watch what He does with it. Follow Him out into the deep water, the risky places- you are far better off with Him in deep water then in the shallows where you can stand on your own. He’s got you.