This is a favorite story of mine. And much like its similar story in Isaiah 6, it offers the assurance that it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do or have done that you are still worthy of the call of God in your life. and that has been so compelling to me over the years. What has also been compelling enough to keep me coming back to the stories, to the bible, to this work, is that the Scripture is this deep well from which new understandings are offered, new perspectives, new connections. Let me tell you, this story has so much more to offer.
Let’s catch us up, last week Jesus was in his hometown of Nazareth. The gathered community didn’t appreciate that the liberation he was bringing wasn’t primarily about them. They tried to throw him off a cliff, he walked away, and returned to teaching and healing around the Galilee region. His fame was growing, he was known, people were showing up, asking for him by their homes. In fact, shortly before Jesus steps into that boat, Jesus find himself healing the mother of one Simon.
I wonder, if as Jesus was being overwhelmed by the crowds, and being pushed back to the Galilee Sea, I wonder, if he looked around and saw sitting there on the shore, cleaning his nets, if there Jesus saw Simon, a face that he recognized, and Jesus let out a deep breath. Like when you go to an event, a party, weddings of friends are often like this for me, and you really don’t know anyone, and then you look over and see a face you know, even if you just met them once and think, o good, she’s here, I’ll be ok.
Maybe Jesus was like: Hey! Simon! Can give me a hand here? Maybe we use your boat to get a bit away…
And they do. They wouldn’t have gone out too far out at first because Jesus was still teaching to the masses that had gathered. They filled the beach, filled the the shallow waters, they listened to what Jesus was saying, and they hopee that he would bring them the promised liberation.
Now, at some point, Jesus is done saying what he has to say and suggests that that they go further out into the sea.
Now, I’ve never had to work 3rd shift, I’ve never fished for large amounts of fish with nets. I have bartended New Years Eve. I’ve never felt so tired or old as I did when we had finished cleaning up and some one suggested we go to the after bar-service industry party at 3am. Fishing with a net is a lot of work. It’s not the casual fishing with a rod. Or my kind of fishing that primarily involves me reading a book. It’s throwing nets, it’s physical, and it was all night.
So I imagine when Jesus showed up and asked to use their boat as a pulpit, they thought, fine, we can finish our net cleaning on the boat with him, while we listen. But when Jesus said let’s go further out, to the deep, and fish. 2 things: 1: the Sea fo Galilee is about the size of lake Winnibego up by Oshkosh, not tiny but not like the Great Lakes. Unlike Lake Winnebago, deep portions are well over 100 ft deep. 2: they had been fishing all night. All night. They had just finished cleaning up from fishing, all night. AND this wasn’t the first time they had gone fishing. They weren’t brand new. This was their business, this is how they supported their families. and while they hadn’t gotten any fish that night, clearly other nights had been more fruitful, otherwise, how would they have developed this fishing collaborative. Simon’s father was probably a professional fisherman, as was his father. All that is to say, Simon knew what he was doing. You fish in these areas because that’s where the fish are. One of the reasons you fish at night is because the linen that was most likely used for fishing nets was almost invisible at night, but in the light of the sun, even the fish could see it in the water and avoid their captivity. And, they were tired. They knew better, they knew what it takes to catch fish, and they knew what this carpenter turned public speaker Jesus was suggesting was absurd.
Let me tell you something about me… I am often committed to helping people recognized the problems that need to be solved. Sometimes someone comes up with an idea and my first reaction isn’t “That’s great! Let’s do it!” and instead is, “Yeah, but what about this?” I like to think of it as helping problem solve. What it probably is is me really saying: Great, here are 5 reasons why that isn’t going to work.
This happens for all kinds of reasons. Maybe you’re like Simon, and you know. You know how things are done and why things are done and that the suggestions that have been made make no sense! You’re an expert! It’s the chef asking the IT person if they tried turning it off and turning it back on. Clearly we tried that, clearly it didn’t work, and clearly I’m not going to do it again.
It’s a joke in churches and when you have a gaggle of pastors that someone in the congregation is going to say: that’s not how we do things or we’ve done that before and it doesn’t work. And to be fair, you, the church membership, are the experts of this church and neighborhood. But there is a graveyard somewhere, though, of great ideas that were shot down by someone saying: that’s not going to work here.
And here’s what Simon, Simon, who had been fishing his whole life, trained by someone who had fished his whole life, who knew the best way to catch fish, here’s what Simon did–he did it. He took the boat out to the deep waters. He threw the nets into the Sea. His boat was filled, another boat was filled. So full that if one. more. fish. had been added both of those boats would be at the bottom of the sea.
It was a miracle, a miracle of nature, which seems a bit silly if you start to try and visualize what it must have looked like to navigate those two boats back to shore. This could have kept their families fed for months. This catch could have changed their lives because of the financial implications of selling that amount of inventory. Something astonishing happened, something amazing, something unexpected. Something that captured their imagination so much that they gave up that moment, that promise of income, and followed Jesus for the rest of their lives. They let go of the economy of the world, left those fish behind to rot, so that they could participate in the economy of the kin-dom of God.
Simon had a moment of wonder that could have been missed if he had done what makes sense, if he had responded: Jesus, we’re tired, we worked all night, we clean our nets, we haven’t caught anything, fishing in the day doesn’t make sense.
It didn’t make sense, but the wonder and possibilities…
We are a post enlightenment people, post-modern, we know things. We know that a rainbow is just light refracting off water. That the sun isn’t setting behind the water, rather the earth rotated. We know the mist in the morning are warm and cold running into each other. That
But sometimes even these moments fill us with awe. We know things, we know how and why and yet, our imagination comes to life. Remember that video from several years ago, the guy that was so excited about the double rainbow? There is science behind it, but in that moment, the wonder of seeing something that seems like… a miracle.
What might we be missing out on? How do we have a sense of possibility that there is more out there?
Simon sensed something about Jesus. Simon could see something in Jesus. He had seen him heal, but there was something more, something compelling, something that let him lower his guard and his certainty, something that let him not be distracted by the economy of the world, and just… be amazed.
What are you focused on? What are you looking for? What are you paying attention to in your day to day life that demands something of you?
How often do you believe you know, you have the answers, you rely on certainty? Haven’t you been amazed at the wisdom of a child while they don’t even have the “right” answer? There is a God who is active in this world, waiting for you to be amazed, to be filled with wonder, to wander into unknown and unexpected places where God is and where God is doing amazing things.
I wonder what would happen if we started seeking out wonder. If our minds were set to look out for possibilities. To live as if we’re expecting to be astonished. Will we take the chance that seems ridiculous? That might have a cost in the economy of this world but invests us in the wonder of God’s call?
What if we moved in the world waiting to be amazed, and then, giving God the space to do it?