READ: Lk. 5:1-11
I’m retired. What a gift. But I’m not so far into retirement that I’ve forgotten the longing to be productive and to bring blessing to all in my daily world. That longing of my heart hasn’t retired – it is still active every day, so this story of Jesus, the hard-working man Peter, and Peter’s work resonates.
When I step into this story, I picture myself in Peter’s shoes. He has begun to follow Jesus, but at this point he still works at his occupation, fishing. So Peter is a follower by day and a fisherman by night. It is the end of a long session of seeking fish with nothing to show. Peter is likely weary, but working on his nets, an end of the ‘day’ job that has to be done to be ready for his next work day. And here comes Jesus. This man he admires and follows, but in a way that isn’t connected to what brings home the bacon. Jesus knows that putting out from shore a bit in a boat would help amplify his teaching and make him more visible to the crowd. So he asks Peter to take him out a ways in his boat with that end in mind.
I can just imagine a very tired Peter complying – possibly with a sigh of reluctance and exhaustion. This act of obedience was enough, but then, then Jesus says to Peter “Put out into the deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Can’t you just imagine Peter’s response? What he says is “Master, we’ve worked all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” I find myself imagining his heart response … ‘Really? This carpenter is telling me how to fish? We tried this very spot last night and there was NOTHING here! I guess I’ll humor him, but this is craziness!”
And then the outcome – nets newly repaired, but so full they begin to break. They have to signal other boats to come out and help haul in the catch. I love Peter’s response of “Go away from me Lord; I am a sinful man!” I’ve often thought of that as a general statement of truth, because aren’t we all sinful? But lately I’ve come to see his statement as a repenting of his most immediate thoughts about this one who would dare to tell him to put out his net! And then the benediction from Jesus; the closing blessing of this episode “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.”
At the root of it all, whatever our occupation, we really are fishing for people. When I worked for pay and in my capacity as a manager my heart’s desire was to bless people. I wanted them to succeed at their work and for the work to go well, but my heart was that all would thrive and live productive and well provided for lives. This story of Jesus’ heart for Peter and heart for people causes me to want to put my net down into him – into Jesus. I want to ask every day what He has for me to do, to give me guidance about where to put my net. Whether we work for pay in a job or if we are living a life freed from the demands of a paid position, but earnestly want to be a blessing to those we meet, we can seek the Lord’s guidance and know He will answer.
Lord of my life and Lord of my work, this is the day that You have made. You’ve given it to me and today I give it back to you! Use me specific to that which you want to accomplish today. In my job, in my home, in my life show me where to put my nets down that I might bless people!