Fishers of Men
It’s one of those picture-perfect, beautiful kind of days, today. You know, the one of only a handful of days each year when you seek out a table outside, sit under the shade of an old, oak tree, and take a deep breath in as you let the gentle breeze brush across your face. One of those days, where you can close your eyes and just be at peace. Part of me wishes everyday was a day like today; but unfortunately, they are not and those picture-perfect days are not where God calls us to live. While yes, beautiful days are needed to rest and replenish our souls, in this broken world, God calls us out of the ideal and instead to seek out the needy, the hurting, the unlovable-those who rarely cross our paths on days like today. God calls us to be ‘fishers of men.’
The idea of being a ‘fisher of men’ comes from Luke 5:1-11 which tells the story of Simon Peter who had been out fishing all day and catching nothing (how familiar does that sound?). As Simon Peter pulls near to the shore, Jesus is standing there and preaching to a crowd which has gathered around him. Peter and his friends begin the natural process of cleaning their nets after an exhausting night of deep sea fishing when Jesus approaches and asks Peter if he would push his boat back into the water so that Jesus could sit down while he continued to preach to the crowd. Peter complies and once Jesus had finished preaching, he turned and told Peter to lower his nets back down into the water. Peter responded, “5Master we toiled all night and caught nothing. But on the ground of Your word, I will lower the nets again.” Basically, I’m exhausted, but I trust you enough that I will do what you are asking me to do one more time. Then in verse 6, it reads, “And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and as their nets were at the point of breaking, they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and take hold with them. And they came and filled both the boats so that they began to sink.” Finally, in verse 10, “…And Jesus said to Simon Peter, have no fear; from now on you will be catching men!”
Now, while that’s a great passage, you may be wondering why I’m writing about it. I'm clearly not the fishing type unless you count eating it at restaurants. The short answer, God is awesome.
This past week, I met with a wonderful and godly mentor who encouraged me to take some specific action steps last week and trust God for the results. While I did as we had discussed, by the end of the week, I was feeling discouraged because no visible results had been seen. I was beginning to feel A LOT like Peter-casting out my net over and over again, day after day, but just not catching fish. Sunday morning as I began to get dressed for church, I was thinking about the steps I had taken and began to ask God why he has led me here for me to continue to not catch any ‘fish’. That’s when God reminded me of this story. I thought about it for a few minutes and told God if he was REALLY telling me to trust him and to let my ‘nets’ down again, instead of following a different path, then he’d have to confirm that very clearly.
About an hour later, I’m sitting down and open my church bulletin to see that our pastor is speaking about “Pressing In” from John 21:4-6. Now, this is not the EXACT same passage I thought about, but it IS the second time that Peter has been out fishing and coming back with little to show for it. In this passage, Peter is returning from another pointless fishing trip, having caught nothing, after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. This is a pivotal time for Peter as he seeks to understand everything that has transpired and what he should do next. As Peter pushes the boat onto the shore they are asked if they caught any fish and reply no. Then, without realizing it’s Jesus, are told to cast the net on the other side of the boat and you will find some. When they did, they caught so many large fish that they weren’t even able to haul the net into the boat.
I love that God knows what we need even when it’s hard. I began writing this blog a month ago. While I’m still 'fishing for men’, I am fully convinced God’s got this. He continues to confirm to me that he hasn’t forgotten me. He found David even though he was the youngest of Jesse’s sons and busy in the pasture watching over the sheep; God saw him and anointed him king. He found Elisha who was busy plowing the fields with his 12 oxen; God saw him and instructed Elijah to lay his prophet’s mantle on him. He found Moses who had run away from home and living in the desert miles away; God saw him and chose him to led his people out of the Egyptian bondage. He found Noah in the middle of a vast drought; God saw him and chose him to build the ark that would save mankind.
None of the people that God has used in the Bible were self-promoting or self-seeking. All of them simply said, “Yes, God, I will go where you lead”. It’s a great reminder to me and a great stress reliever, that while I DON’T know how or when God will find me and use me, I have NO doubt that God has called me and is equipping me for the journey ahead. I know that as long as I stay faithfully rooted in Him and continue to remain faithful in his confirmation to ‘keep fishing’, then when the time is right, God WILL find me too and my nets WILL overflow.