Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.
- Ephesians 1:11-12 The Message
Last week was Spring Break here in Williamson County, so we were also on a break from Wednesday Bible study. I am so ready to get back to it, especially to learn this week's story. It's another one of those stories you think you know, because you've heard it, but when you start to learn it well enough to tell it—when you start to picture it happening—you realize you didn't know it at all.
If you grew up in church, you probably learned this story sitting in a circle in front of a flannel board, as your teacher put the pieces of the story in place: Jesus, Peter, the boats, the fish, all the people on the shore. You probably learned the shorter version, found in Matthew or Mark: Jesus was walking by the lake. He saw some fishermen: Peter and Andrew, James and John. He called to them, "Follow me." And they led their nets and followed him.
You might have learned the little song that comes from Luke's version of the story: "I will make you fishers of men, fishers of men, fishers of men..."
I love this story and am happy that it is time to learn it, because it makes a big turn in the larger Love Story of what God is about in the world. Up to now, we have learned that we are part of a great love story—that we are, in fact, the focus of God's love, that he set his heart on us before he ever spoke the first word of creation. We've learned that there is competition for our hearts, that we are prone to wander, that God is a faithful pursuer and that in Jesus he has rescued us from the wreckage of our wandering. But there is more to God's plan that just being rescued from. We are rescued to.
When he was finished teaching, he said to Peter, “Put out into the deep water now, and let down your nets for a catch.”
Peter said, “Oh, Master. We’ve been out fishing all night, and we haven’t caught anything! But because you tell me to, I’ll do it.”
So they took the boat out into the deep water and let down the nets. And the fish swarmed to them!
Peter had to call for help, and pretty soon the nets were full, and they hauled them into the boats, and the boats were on the verge of sinking, there were so many fish!
- Luke 5:4-7
Every week, in every story, there is a realization that takes my breath away, that brings me to tears. And this is when it happened to me this week: And the fish swarmed to them!
There is a moment in your life—there must be that moment—when you realize that you were rescued to be part of something greater than just your one life. There is Someone greater at work around you. It is His story that is THE story, HIs work that is THE work. And you have a part in it.
A man who'd spent his life on the sea took the Lord of the Sea out in his boat, and the fish came swarming. The water began to ripple as their fins crested, the deep blue swirled, and the boat spun as they swam up and up and up, leaping into the air, into the boat, leaping for joy at the feet of their Maker.
"Peter," Jesus said, "From now on, you're going to catch people."
I think he was laughing when he said it. Laughing as the fish flipped and flew around him. I think Jesus was laughing because he could already see the day when Peter would preach in the power of the Spirit and three thousand people would swarm to Jesus. (Acts 2:41) I think Jesus was laughing because he already knew and loved by name every member of the church he would build upon this Rock, this fisherman who didn't even know yet that he was a Rock.
It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.
Put out into the deep water.
There is fear in that. Risk. Potential. And more. Oh! There is so much more.
When I was a little girl, I remember standing on the edge of the diving board, shivering at the deep end of the pool below. My Dad was treading that shimmering water, holding out his arms to me and calling, "Come on! Jump in! Don't be afraid!" He was laughing as he said it. He was laughing when I jumped. He was laughing when he caught me and as we swam to the edge together.
Click here to listen to the story of Peter's leap of faith and download the Bible study.
Who will you tell this story to?