fish: Red Letter Challenge

Fish. Fishing. Fishermen. Fishing for men. If you’ve been around church at all, you’ve heard it. Jesus calling his first disciples, fishermen, to join in his work of “fishing for men” and sharing the Good News. (Check it out in Matthew 4:18-22, Mark 1:6-20, and Luke 5:2-11)

I have always liked the play on words and the idea that some of the first to follow Jesus were common folk just trying to make ends meet. It paints a picture of an approachable Messiah, one who meets us where we are.

I also love the way the story captures the struggle and frustration of those fishing. It’s one thing to go out for a relaxing day of “let’s see what’s biting” and it is something else when fishing is your job and you have a contracted quota of fish to produce.

When I was seven-ish, me and a couple of guys from the neighborhood would walk a creek that ran through a field near where we lived. Once an older brother even took us to where the creek fed into a pond that had fish. He caught catfish and I caught bluegill. (That was also the day we brought home a snapping turtle, but that’s another story.) We had a great time and when we got home, my friend’s mom prepared and fried the fish for us. Wonderful. Enjoyable. Fun.

That’s not what the fishermen in our scriptures were experiencing. They are tired and worn out. Their livelihood is on the line (or in the net?). Some random dude shows up and offers unsolicited advice? I have to imagine it is desperation which leads them to do as Jesus asks.

And I get this.

Sometimes, I have to have exhausted all other options before I turn to God. Sometimes, I think I can handle “x” and I don’t need to ask God or anyone else for help. Sometimes, I’m completely wrong.

Jesus demonstrates time and again he knows more than we know and he is willing to supply what we need. I’m trying to listen.

So here in this wilderness of pandemic Lent, I find myself wondering what’s next for the Church? I feel like we’ve been fishing for sometime and our nets aren’t empty, but there are not full either. I know we are not reaching our potential, our nets are not bursting.

Could be we’ve exhausted our fishing hole. Could be our nets are worn and torn. Could be we are just not very good at fishing.

I’m hopeful if I keep listening, Jesus will let me know what to do and when to do it. I think Jesus is patient like that. You see, Matthew, Mark and Luke, have Jesus helping the disciples fish as they start their adventure. John has a similar story near the end of Jesus’ time with these fishermen. (read about it in John 21:1-14)

So if we’re not “catching fish” maybe we just need to keep listening. Jesus will help when we are ready to do what he asks. Becoming ready is what Lent is all about.

Life is better together,
Shawn

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