Hunkered Down Devotion

Luke 5:1-6 (Voice)
Picture these events:
On the banks of Gennesaret Lake, a huge crowd, Jesus in the center of it, presses in to hear His message from God. 2 Off to the side, fishermen are washing their nets, leaving their boats unattended on the shore.
3 Jesus gets into one of the boats and asks its owner, Simon, to push off and anchor a short distance from the beach. Jesus sits down and teaches the people standing on the beach.
4 After speaking for a while, Jesus speaks to Simon.
Jesus: Move out into deeper water, and drop your nets to see what you’ll catch.
Simon (perplexed): 5 Master, we’ve been fishing all night, and we haven’t caught even a minnow. But . . . all right, I’ll do it if You say so.
6 Simon then gets his fellow fishermen to help him let down their nets, and to their surprise, the water is bubbling with thrashing fish—a huge school. The strands of their nets start snapping under the weight of the catch,

Most miracle stories leave a sort of warm feeling in your heart, they are ‘feel good’ stories, stories that have depth of meaning, but from an emotional perspective just tend to make us happy, i.e. someone is healed, someone is fed, someone is saved.  This miracle story, however, if we are paying attention to it, is a little different.

On the surface, maybe it isn’t so different, a bunch of tired fishermen get a gigantic catch of fish after Jesus tells them where to cast their nets – yeah!  While this is what happens, I think it glosses over important elements of what is really going on in this story.  Part of why we miss this is because we know how this story goes: We know who Jesus is, we know that these fishermen become Jesus’ disciples, we know that following Jesus is the right choice.  

But, for a minute, try and imagine we didn’t know all of that yet.  Pretend that you only know what Simon knew at this point: that you and your co-workers have been fishing in these waters your entire lives; that no one in the world knows where to find fish in that water better than the people on those boats (this is what they do; and what they are good at); that this man – no matter how good and nice, no matter how blessed by God, doesn’t know the first thing about fishing.  

When we think about things in this way, this story gets a little more complicated, especially if we try and extrapolate it into our lives.  What is it that you do best?  What is it that you feel like you know how to do better or as well as anyone else around?  Now imagine a rough, long day at that work: nothing has gone right, all the things you normally do aren’t working, it’s just one of those days.  Then, up strolls Jesus, and as far as you know, he doesn’t know anything about what you do for a living, and he says that the problem is that you have been doing it wrong, ‘just try again, but over there this time’.  

All of a sudden, this miracle story doesn’t necessarily feel like such a ‘feel good’ moment after all.  But this story does illuminate for us some critically important truths.  One of those truths is that Jesus always wants good for us.  Jesus wasn’t showing off or anything like that, he was helping the fisherman find success in their efforts.

The most important lesson from this story, however, is about our abilities, God’s ability, and where we need God’s help.  Too often in our lives, we divide things up (usually subconsciously) into two categories: things that I have under control on my own and things I will ask God for help with.  

It would have been perfectly natural for Simon and the other fisherman to tell Jesus, ‘Thanks, but no thanks.  You worry about the preaching and the teaching and leave the fishing to us.’  In fact, Simon did initially try and brush Jesus off, explaining about their rough night of fishing.  But eventually he relents, and they haul in a miraculous amount of fish.

Perhaps the most important message for us from this miracle story isn’t that Jesus knows where the fish are, but that there is no area of our lives that we know better than Jesus. And there is no place, no thing in our lives where Jesus isn’t capable of helping us.  Holding onto control, and insisting on doing things our own way, only keeps us from experiencing all of the blessings that God has planned for us.  
Sharing God’s Love, 

Prayer:  Lord, help us to turn to and trust in you in every area of our lives, even the parts we think we have under control.  Amen.

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