As I’ve become more motivated to study Scripture I’ve come to recognize that I have this odd connection with Simon-Peter. He pops up a lot in the Gospels and his struggles and human failures frequently remind me of my own faith walk. One of my favorite St. Peter stories is when Jesus first calls him to the ministry (Luke 5 The Call of Simon the Fisherman). After revisiting this story, I was surprised by the number of ways the story relates to my 21st century attempt at Christian living. Prior to his discipleship with Jesus, Simon was a simple fisherman. I would presume he had little choice in his career path – he lived near the sea, came from a family of little privilege and had no education, thus he fished. His goals in life may have been to be a simple, hard working, law-abiding, Jewish man. Those fishing nets, I would expect were one of his most tangible sources of hope. After one particularly long and pitiful day at sea Jesus jumps in Simon’s boat and insists they go back out to sea and “put out into deep water.” At that point Simon has probably already thoroughly trolled the waters, expecting little luck in the “deep waters.” In obedience, he goes out anyways. Out in the deep water Christ astonishes Simon with a miraculous catch that provides Simon with a boat full of fish. Immediately Jesus invites Simon to abandon his life as a fisherman and join him on a new and uncertain mission.
Here’s my take: Simon grew up with an idea of what his purpose and goal in life were – catch fish and be able to afford his necessities and taxes and to live a simple and respectable lifestyle. His fishing nets represented his own personal plans for fulfillment and his core identity he understood was as a fisherman (notice even in Scripture he is refered to as Simon the Fishermen). At one point his fishing plan wasn’t working out well and he was losing hope in this plan that consumed his life. Fortunately, Jesus intervenes and redirects him. Probably only through grace was a very tired Simon able to muster up enough energy to comply with this random carpenter’s fishing “hunch.” In the deep sea Jesus rewards Simon’s trust with this remarkable catch, fulfilling what Simon had always hoped for; this jackpot catch that would assuredly bring happiness and fulfillment. It’s almost like Jesus is saying “Not so fast, my dear Simon. This is what your simple heart has always thought it wanted and desired, but this will not bring you the fulfillment you longed for. You were not made for just catching fish. You were made for more and I want you to lay down your nets, your life, your hopes and come follow me.” And Simon looked at that boat full of fish and recognized it was nothing compared to what Christ was offering and off they went.
What I realized is that just like Simon, I have attached myself to my own set of nets or plans that I’m often convinced will give me the most happiness and fulfillment. As a Christian, Christ is asking me to trust Him, to be willing to go with Him to the deep water and to recognize that these nets I have cannot provide even a smidgen of the happiness and hope that He can provide. I feel like He is constantly asking “Will you just trust in the plan I’ve weaved for your little soul? Trust that it is far more richer than those measly nets you’ve vainly been weaving?” I say vain because at times I’m still convinced that I would rather just stay in the boat and spend my days casually fishing rather than abandon my nets and embark on this unknown mission. What I’m realizing is that I need to ask God to grant me that same obedience and trust my friend St. Peter demonstrated so that I can get out of the boat and accept God’s call for my mission. I would encourage you to pray with this scripture and consider what things your are holding on to and how God might be calling you to trade in your nets for something bigger.
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