Today was fishing day! It had been at least four to five years since I had gone salt water fishing and I was most excited to be able to wade fish.
The night before I was led to read Luke 5 because in that story, the fishermen (soon to be disciples) had been fishing all night and were unable to catch fish. So while Jesus was preaching to a crowd on the shore, they were washing their nets signaling that they were done for the day. However, parallel to their finished work, was Jesus in the midst of his mission. In short, they were coexisting in the same space but not entangled in each others’ lives.
This reminded me of a couple of times on the boat when we fished parallel to each other. Occasionally, if a fish (or in our case a baby shark) was on the line, our lines would intersect because of the movement of the fish. Therefore, we had to do a little dance of ducking and bringing over the rods so that the intersection would not produce an entanglement. It was in those moments that a partnership came into being. Beyond those moments however, we each stayed in our own space whether we were on the boat or wading in the water.
5 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret,[a] the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
Now, our fishing day had pretty much gone like Simon’s. We had not caught many fish in the shallower parts of the bay. It was really an odd situation, because every spot we fished had fish. However, they just wouldn’t bite even though we were using the go to trout bait: live croaker. So after awhile our guide, just like Jesus, proposed an idea. He was wanting us to catch fish just as much as we did and probably more so because that is what he was hired to do. There is an expectation, no matter how good or novice your clients are, they leave with a good number of fish. So, he proposed this crazy idea that he knew would work and we decided to agree and go along with it.
Off we went to deeper water to partake in a creative and crazy idea. When we got there, he started explaining what was going to happen, how quick it was going to happen, and how we were going to have to adjust our technique and work as a team. I think we were all skeptical at first, but the moment that bait hit the water, the trout would blow. But, getting the trout to bite was the easy part, getting them out was a whole different story.
“Get the net!” was being shouted out from one team of us at the front of the boat and the other team towards the back. If you were fishing, you were trying to wear the trout down and not let it swim near the barnacles. If you had the net, preferably the long one, you were trying to scoop the fish up the moment it was reeled in straight trying to ensure that it didn’t swim back to the barnacles that were usually just a foot a way.
It was fast. It was fun. And, it required teamwork especially when the big trout were hooked on the line.
6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
In scripture, the BIG catch from throwing the nets deep, required the fishermen from that boat and the other boat to work together. Fishing today required us to do the same thing while we really listened to the guidance and instruction of our guide.
But, notice how the scripture ended. They left everything behind including the fish. If you think about all the empty handed fishing the night before, to experiencing the biggest catch they had ever had, they walked away from a big win and a lot of glory.
Jesus was calling them to fish for a greater and more valuable fish-people.
I don’t get to fish a lot and by no means am I an expert fisher-woman. But I know enough to know that great fishermen have a lot of patience and perseverance. They don’t give up easily on their unproductive fishing spots. Sometimes they persevere until the fish start biting. Sometimes they realize something is off and it’s just not the right time. Moving to a new spot, never means leaving the unproductive spot forever. It just means moving on in the moment and revisiting it the future. They know there will be days with very little caught and some days that yield high numbers.
Having the characteristics and qualities of a great fisherman are the exact same ones needed for ministry and loving others like Jesus.
So get the net and be ready, because getting people hooked is half the battle. Getting them in the net and to the safety of Jesus’ boat requires teamwork.
For His Glory,