Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 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.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
~ Luke 5:1-11
"There was this one time while I was fishing..."
Sounds like the beginning of a fish story that we all may have heard. You know, the one "this big" and "fought so hard," and then "it got away."
Why is it that God always seems to have to go to the extreme to finally get us to realize that what God is doing? For the men that day in the boat, all who were fishermen, it was the largest fish story that they had ever encountered personally. A catch so large that their boats were sinking. Now THAT is a fish story!
So many times in our life we are like Simon that day. We keep attempting to do things in the "same old way." Even he tells Jesus, "We have been up all night fishing and have caught nothing."
I don't know if Simon was just tired of fishing, or just plain tired. After all, this had not been an ordinary day for he and his crews. Jesus, because the crowd was so large, and were pressing in so much, had no other alternative than to board a boat and just go out into the water a short distance to preach. These boats and the men working them, were simply used to going out and seeking fish for a living. They were not traditionally used to provide a place for one to address a group, and to speak of things that they had not thought of before.
When they were told to cast out their nets and began to gather the fish, something that they were used to doing, the catch was so large it was almost something that they could not handle. Because of the catch, Simon begins to apologize when he realizes that he was thinking and acting in a way that he was just simply used to.
Today I listen to young people use the term, "My bad" when they make a mistake. I think it is close to the "I'm a sinner," mentality that Simon expressed to Jesus. It's not that he had done something so wrong. He simply found himself realizing that with Jesus, the way he even thought about fishing, none the less his whole life, was about to change!
I don't know about you, but I am always amazed when God reveals a new idea or a new way of looking at something to me. While I could easily proclaim how wrong I had been, or how lame I had been to think of something that way (by the way, that also falls into the category of poor self talk!), instead God wants us to move on.
Jesus doesn't say, "Well, Simon, I'm glad you finally realized what a terrible person you have been." Instead he tells them to move on! While they are great fishermen, they are now going to be great gatherers of people.
While some may see this as just another fish story, the lives of those catching fish that day were forever changed with one large catch!
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2017
Dear God, help me to listen to what You are trying to tell me, and upon hearing, help me to follow what it is that You desire of me. Amen.
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Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.