Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Big Catch

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I have no cute stories or analogies to this devotional. I feel like the scripture speaks for itself and I felt compelled to share with you this sense of urgency and challenge God has somewhat laid upon my heart. It stems from the passage found in Luke 5:

“Jesus Calls His First Disciples
1 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret,[a] the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 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.
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
5 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.”
6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. “ NIV

I feel like this passage of scripture has this continuum created within it. You can portion the passage, separating it sequentially, which leads up to an unexpected climax. One minute Christ is on shore with a group of people; then he moves to a boat just off the shore. Shortly after, he asks for the boat to be moved into a deeper area of the Lake and asks his disciples to cast their nets. Somewhat reluctantly, they obey and discover that they have just captured an unbelievable amount of fish—so much that the two boats begin to sink! Then they just leave it: leave it all and follow Christ. Curtain closes. Ha! My interest is not so much the miracle performed in capturing fish but rather the process that Christ took to call his disciples and how Luke described the experience differently than the other four gospel authors.

First. Christ was preaching by the Sea of Galilee and then he gets into Simon’s boat and preaches from there just beyond where he was standing before. Why? Why couldn’t Christ have just stayed on shore? Why Simon’s boat? I am not claiming to be a scholar at this portion of scripture but I do find the symbolism fascinating! There are other passages of scripture dealing with boats and faith: walking on water and the encounters of storms. I love it! I don’t even know what Christ preached on that day but just the fact that he positioned himself on a boat makes me think that he was preaching on a subject of faith, trust and dependence on the Lord. Maybe it was symbolizing “going” or “working” too since it was a mode of transportation and a form of trade. I feel like Christ was also preparing their hearts for a revelation, a miracle and even a test of obedience to what he spoke on. Are you in a season where Christ is preaching to you? Think about where you are at in life: you may not be encountering challenges or high risk involvement in advancing the Gospel, but rather sitting and listening to the Lord and growing in knowledge of his Word. It says that he was preaching to the crowd on “the word of God.” So maybe you’re at this point in life.

Second. Christ proceeds to ask Simon to move the boat further out into a deeper area. Again, I can’t help but be completely fascinated with the symbolizing represented just in the movement of the boat. He also asks Simon to cast out his net. Notice how hesitant Simon is in casting out his net because earlier in that same day, they had attempted and failed to catch anything. Eventually, he obeys and BAM! He witnesses a miracle in catching probably the largest amount of fish ever on record for the Sea of Galilee. He totally would have won an award, maybe a trophy or a life time supply of tarter sauce—who knows! The amount of fish filled two boats causing them both to sink. Simon recognizes how his slow response to Christ made him realize how sinful of a man he really was! He feels so incredibly unworthy of being in Christ’s presence. Miracles whether large or small reciprocate change and impact a life in so many different ways!
Ok, stop for a second and look at this point of the passage. Are you in this place? Has God now called you into a deeper area of life. “Deeper” may be to a different location, a new job, a new school, a new church, or area of mission. You’re not totally comfortable with the position you’re in but you know you’re suppose to be there and Christ is asking you to go even a step further by casting out a net: your net maybe starting a conversation; participating in some event; giving time, energy, resources to something or someone or maybe even sacrificing something so dear to your heart. You may look at Christ with exhausted or fearful eyes because you just do not see how anything good could come of you following through with what he has asked you to do. But because of what God’s Word says and the Holy Spirit’s nudge upon your heart, you follow through and discover a miracle has just taken place! Although it may have been considered a huge risk for failure, you are pleasantly surprised when a blessing comes from it! Are you floating in deep water with Christ right now? Do you recognize who you are in the presence of thee most Holy God?

Third. After this miracle has occurred it seems like our story has come to it’s ultimate climax but then it is cut short with a bit of a “cliff hanger.” Christ asks these men to walk away from it! To leave the fish and follow him. I was visiting with a dear friend of mine about this passage and he said “Think of the wealth those men could have had from that catch!” Or the lifetime supply of free tarter sauce right? Haha, Ok. Lame. But really! They would have been taken care of for a long time with that amount of fish. But I think they realized that there was more to obtain than the miracle---the miracle giver himself. So often we pray and pray for a miracle in life and discover when that prayer is answered or the miracle does occur, there is still this sense of wanting more. Not only that, but I think these disciples saw first hand the kind of Rabbi they were invited to join was unlike any other Rabbi they had ever seen or heard of and so when the opportunity came—they couldn’t help but follow him. These men knew that there was something different about Christ and that he was going to accomplish more than any other man. They may have also had some background knowledge on a coming Messiah and realized---this is what we have been waiting for and we need to go.

Are you at this point of the passage? Have you just been blessed immensely or witnessed a miracle but now have been challenged further to surrender it all and leave it at the foot of the cross? Maybe Christ isn’t asking you to totally get up and walk away from what you’re doing but is still asking for a form of surrender. Maybe Christ is asking you to walk away from a high-paying job for a job that will allow you to reach more people; maybe God is asking you to walk away from a relationship that is not glorifying Him; maybe God is asking you to totally change course in your life and calling you to a radically different life---whatever is going on, I suggest you apply what the disciples did and follow. It’s scary—but you cannot help but follow Christ.

I just want to pray through this scripture for you and myself. I am so, so challenged by it and don’t completely understand it and feel like it’s a passage that a lot of people can glean from. Let’s pray:
“Dear Heavenly Father, thank you so so much for this passage of scripture and the calling of your disciples. Wow! God we stand back in amazement as to how you orchestrated in your Word, the calling of your disciples. Lord we recognize your unique ability to see exactly where your children are at and how you draw them closer to you. God we thank you for the miracles you perform in our lives whether large or small and we recognize that a miracle or a blessing runs so much deeper than answering a prayer or fulfilling a need. We discover Lord that we desire you: the Miracle Giver. Lord I pray for those that are on the shore listening to you preach the Word; these people may not completely understand who you are or maybe they do but they don’t understand an aspect of who you are and so they are simply learning more about you—almost in a season of waiting and direction. Second, Lord we pray for those who you have called into deeper waters. Lord we pray that they would be quick to cast their nets. You have prepared them well for whatever task you desire them to do. God we pray that they would respond to the answer to prayer or the miracle in such a way that it brings recognition to your holiness, your faithfulness and your deep love and desire for them to know you more. And God, we pray for those who have been challenged to walk away from an opportunity whether relationally, financially, or an advancement in a career and to follow you to another place of mission: to be your disciple. Although it may appear that we are losing everything to follow you Lord, I pray that you would stir within our hearts a sense of peace that our surrender is not in vain but rather a simple response to something far greater than ourselves which leads to spending eternity basking in your glory. Continue to teach us what this passage looks like in each of our lives and apply what your Word says. We love you and desire you desperately Lord. Amen.”

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