Fishing at Night? Set it aside!
Again, we wanted to share with you some recent words from one of the Cru national directors, Mark Gauthier. We hope this encourages you during your summer!
As I've sought to experience Jesus more fully this year - seeing, touching, hearing from Him - it's been interesting to consider the ways He enters into our lives, calling and recalling us to that life of surrender.
Recently, I was reading through John 21 again. John is bringing his telling of the gospel to a close: Peter had denied Jesus, Jesus had risen from the dead and now was revealing Himself to disciples for the third time.
One of my first observations is that the disciples have gone back to fishing, and not for fun. They were returning to something they knew, something they could do well. They had spent the entire evening fishing, and John tells us they had caught nothing. I don’t think they liked that! A night’s work without a night’s wage- this certainly isn’t a fun or welcomed place to be. I don’t like to “catch nothing” in my life. To end a season with a big “zero” is most definitely not a happy place. The word “stuck” comes to mind.
Then in the early morning hours, a man called out from the shore. They hadn't seen him, standing just beyond their focus on the nets and the boat. Feeling ragged and tired, this man's instructions must have sounded ridiculous. In the midst of their struggling night, completely unrecognized, Jesus, the great Initiator reaches out to them.
I find this interesting. The disciples are stuck, they aren’t thinking about Jesus, they don’t even see that He is right there in their current reality. Yet, Jesus speaks, initiates, and invites these fishermen to Him.
Just like these disciples I find God works in a similar way. In fact, the ragged edges, struggles, and challenges of my life are often the greatest places God wants to demonstrate His work - in the midst of the darkness, feelings of inadequacy, pain, and struggle. He is there even while I am trying to do it all on my own, leaning on my own understanding or living in my own power.
This has been a very busy season. The To Do list is long, with lots of details to check off, especially as we got ready to leave for the summer. My pattern is to get in task mode and just lower my head and get it done. My level of awareness of God's presence and power is lowered; my experience of joy can be muted. Most of all, my eyes aren't opened to what God is doing or may want me to be doing beyond my own list. I can get stuck in my ways
This is where God calls out to us, just like Jesus called out to Peter and the disciples. He moves into our weakness, changing our hearts. God reveals himself through our weakness and our failures. After all, we can't claim the credit when our own hard work and talent net us nothing.
Jesus first called Peter away from the boats and nets to show him the crowds of people who needed to know God. That didn't make any more sense than throwing empty nets out on the other side of a boat. But Christ revealed himself as the Messiah in word and deed, in His resurrection, and in His appearance there on the beach.
Where are you stuck? Where are you counting on your strength, returning to rhythms that are known and comfortable, even if unfruitful? Look again at those places, then look to the edges, the ragged places, the places you feel most vulnerable. Perhaps this is where God will do something spectacular!
Jesus asked Peter "Do you love me more than these?" More than the fishing nets, the boat, the smell of sea? More than the men who had become closer than family, the ones who experienced the joys and hardships of following Jesus together? More than a life where you provide for yourself?
Like Peter, we can trust that God is moving us to a deeper place of surrender. God is asking us to set it all aside (again) and be the people He's called you and I to be.
When I was a sophomore in college I responded to an opportunity to surrender my life to the Lord completely. It was a defining moment for me. At the same time, I regularly find myself in need of again surrendering my life to Jesus.
John 21 encourages me to notice the way Jesus appeared to the disciples and gives me hope that God wants to reveal Himself to me in real and tangible ways – all with the purpose of bringing me to a deeper place of surrender to Him. How about you?
Praying for Jesus to show Himself to be alive in your life this summer!
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