Where does one start when about to cast into the deep?
I've been sitting here looking out the window for 40 minutes, watching it rain. A drop falls from the sky and joins her sisters in the puddle accumulating on my patio. It feels like winter is breathing a deep sigh as it releases it's grip on the earth. The ice is melting. The giant snowballs that used to be in the shape of a man are disintegrating before my eyes. I hear the water gurgling it's way down the gutters. It it otherwise silent and peaceful….except for the words tumbling in my mind.
This verse….this message….has burned itself into my brain in the past few days. There's something here. There's something I'm supposed to know….to share.
"Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch." Jesus, Luke 5:4
The beginning of chapter 5 tells us that Jesus was speaking to a crowd of people, and they pressed in around Him. I can see it, can't you? He's talking and his words are life changing….life giving….cutting like a sword and filling empty places at the same time. The hungry, thirsty, empty crowd presses closer to get more….more….more. Jesus looks around for a better place to stand so he can be heard and seen by everyone.
He sees a couple of fishing boats at the edge of the lake….the fishermen are done with the night's fishing. They have an air of frustration about them….they fished all night long and came up with nothing to show for it. They're cleaning up….rinsing out nets, putting things in order for their next fishing trip. They're probably looking forward to going to going home, putting on some clean clothes, and getting some rest.
Jesus walks right up to one of those boats, climbs in, and sits down. The boat rocks a bit as he adjusts himself. The boat belongs to a fisherman named Simon, who I imagine is looking at Jesus and thinking something along the lines of "what does he think he's doing?" ha!
Jesus asks him to put the boat out into the water a bit -- that boat on the water will be his stage….his podium. He speaks….he teaches….from his place on the boat. His voice bounces off the water, and everyone on shore can hear him perfectly.
Have you ever heard how sound bounces off water? I was at the lake last summer with my family. One of our favorite things to do when the water is calm is to drive the boat out to the deepest part of the lake, put life jackets on, and just swim and float around. My husband and I were floating about 100 yards away from the boat. My dad stayed on the boat to make sure it didn't drift away. It felt like Luke and I had privacy because we were so far away and the little waves were splashing around us. But something about dad's body language told me that he could hear us talking. In my normal voice, I simply said, "Hi dad, can you hear me?" Without even turning my direction he said, "Hi. Yup." It was the strangest sensation to experience how the water carried our voices!
That's what I imagine it's like as Jesus speaks to the crowd from his perch on that fishing boat. He finishes his teaching and then...
That's when he said it. "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch."
I love Simon's response: "Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets."
And I love the result: "When they did this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so they began to sink."
And I love Simon's conclusion: "he fell down ant Jesus' feet, saying 'Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!' For amazement had seized him and all his companions because the catch of fish which they had taken…"
And finally, I love Jesus' reply to Simon's worship: "Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men."
What do the fishermen do in response to this strange idea of fishing for men?
"they left everything and followed Him."!
Sweet story, right? It's more than that though. It's the whole story - right there in a few paragraphs.
Jesus comes to the people to teach….to tell them who He is. I've experienced this. I've heard his voice, and I know that it IS…. Truth. My very soul vibrates with the knowledge of who He is. He is always with me, He loves me. He knows everything about me, past…present…future.
But sometimes my mind is muddled. I'm worried. I'm caught up in the world. I'm looking in the wrong direction. Too many bodies stand between me and the Lord for me to really hear His message. So He finds a way. He is persistent. He uses the flowers, the trees, the rain….the water….He uses everything around me to carry His message. I am not alone. He never leaves me. I am His beloved.
And then He asks something outrageous of me. Into the Deep.
He asks something scary of me. Into the Deep
He ask something unnatural of me. Into the Deep
Often, I reply with "But Master, we already did this and didn't catch any fish."
He says, "I know….Into the Deep."
"But Lord, this doesn't make sense"
I know…Into the Deep.
"But Jesus, how can this be? I'm afraid!"
I know…. the Deep, my love.
Finally, I have little choice. He is all I see. All I hear. I'm still uncertain. I'm still confused. I'm still afraid. But His voice….it cuts. It consumes. It comforts. It presses me past what I would normally do…even consider doing! An act of obedience and faith is all that is left…
I will do as you say and let down the nets
And then it happens….
Blessing heaped upon blessing. So much blessing I stand aside and just giggle at the enormity of it. I wonder why I ever doubted….why I ever feared. He had this plan all along! Even during the dry time…the night of fishing with no luck….He knew that the frustration and discouragement and failure could be used for good.
Such blessing that it's like something out of a cartoon. Fish practically jumping out of the water and into my boat.
Blessing in abundance to the point that I literally think I will sink. I will drown in blessings….what a way to go!
I am flabbergasted! Awestruck! Humbled. It's obvious that this is more than luck. It is more than coincidence. It is certainly beyond what I could do myself even on the best of days. I couldn't even IMAGINE this type of result, never mind make it happen.
No. This is not me. This is God Almighty. But why?
Because it's not just me -- everyone around me can see that there's something extraordinary happening here. They can see that I am nothing special, but that I have been blessed beyond measure.
"Maybe", they think. "Maybe this Jesus she talks about….just maybe there's something to Him."
Glory to God…to use blessings to display His might instead of the proverbial lightening bolt from Heaven. He speaks in a voice of love and goodness to show who He is.
I get the tiniest taste of who He is. I tremble uncontrollably and fall at His feet…."I am not worthy, Lord."
I feel Him smile at me. His gentle hand rests on my head, and He says "Do not fear. From now on, I have something extraordinary for you. I have even better things ahead for you!"
So here I am…dropping everything to follow Him. The giver of life. The giver of blessings. The Healer of broken hearts and shattered lives. The One who asks the impossible and uses it for His glory.
I want to be a vessel for Him. I want to give all I have in giving glory to Him.
Does that sound strange to you? If you know Him, it probably doesn't.
But if you don't know Him, you might think He's quite the egomaniac to ask people to drop everything, follow Him, and spend their lives giving Him glory!
But no…His glory, my friend, it is for us. Who He is. What He did. Who He wants to be in our lives... is POWER. Power to heal and bless. Power to forgive. Power to love. Power to re-birth and create. Power to Save for all eternity.
If you see good in me, my friends, know that it is not really me you see. If you see anything good, enviable, peaceful, noble, kind, or fruitful….If you see success and blessings poured out in a disproportionate manner in my life….know that it is not of me.
What you see is Jesus. Call to Him. Invite Him in. You can trust Him with everything. Ask Him to save you and to be the Lord of your life.
As for me….I'm standing in the boat with Jesus. I'm a bit nervous. I'm a bit uncertain. Physical law doesn't seem to apply any longer, and I don't know what to expect. But I will do it. I'll cast my net when He tells me to….
...Into the Deep