Don’t we all have times when we have done all we can in a given situation and all our efforts seem to come to naught?
We might be uncertain on how to resolve issues in a particular relationship, what to do next in a work related situation or how to face financial or health challenges…
Or sometimes, the same strategies to handle life that brought good results in the past just don’t do that anymore, so we are at a loss as to why that is or what to do next.
Depending on the importance of a given challenge, not seeing any positive results and not knowing what to do next can leave us confused at best and hopeless at worst.
I don’t know about you, but I certainly have had my share of situations like this and will probably face many more in my life time.
I think Simon Peter was facing one of those situations when we are introduced to him in the account of the Gospel of Luke at the start of chapter five.
He had just spent all night working hard, fishing out on the lake and he and his friends had nothing to show for it. The fish just didn’t show up for the rendezvous.
I imagine, that Peter didn’t have that much time and strength left over to try something else to feed his family for that day. Perhaps he would have felt a certain sense of pressure and anxiety at that point. I mean, what is less controllable than the forces of nature?
Was he used to that and just took it on the chin, and didn’t expect things to really be different?
Was he desperate because this was one of a series of empty fishing trips?
Was he angry, even fuming? Could he have felt let down?
We are not told the details…
What we are told is that he had worked hard with no results.
Sometimes because of variables outside of our control, the results just don’t show up at the rendezvous.
And we are told something else: it is at that very moment of lack, at that moment of highlighted human limitedness that the Incarnate God comes onto the scene.
He steps in. He literally steps into this fisherman’s boat, into his every day, sweat-filled reality.
Peter might have let this rabbi borrow his boat to talk to the crowd, but all the while Jesus is also drawing nearer to him.
Does Peter sense a glimpse of the divine in this rabbi who teaches outside the walls of the Synagogue and is now sitting in his smelly fishing vessel?
Do they chat about fishing for a while, about their families? Do they crack a few jokes?
We don’t know the details.
But what we do know, is that when Jesus tells Peter to do something out of the ordinary (fishing in the heat of the day, maybe too close to the shore, with a noisy crowd around etc), Peter obeys.
It seems that Peter has somehow gotten just enough of the measure of Jesus to obey an instruction he would probably never have obeyed if anyone else had told him to do it.
What happens out of that exchange is, simply put, a miracle!
Peter’s shape and gifting combine with the power of his Maker and the miracle happens.
And do you notice that straight away the whole picture literally expands with overflowing, teaming, generous life? And I am sure, with joy and bewildered laughter!
Immediately others are brought into this excitement to support with pulling the haul in. Everyone involved benefitting from the overflow with provision for the body but also with new revelation for the soul.
This experience turns their lives upside down. It completely realigns their priorities for the rest of their lives. The Kingdom of God has broken in.
It all starts with Peter’s faith-response to Jesus’s presence and word.
This is good news indeed! The same can unfold for me and for you! This story tells us eternal truths about the very nature of our God. He generously gives of Himself to us. He gave Himself to us, to be with us.
Isn’t one of His names Immanuel-God with us?
He knows the details.
He is the same today as He was when He met Peter and his companions. He loves us and wants to do life with us. He has given us His Holy Presence to be our companion and counselor.
If we let Him step into our realities and if we engage with Him in relationship, do life with Him at every turning point He is faithful to show us the way, to be our Way.
Elsewhere in the Gospels He said: “ I came so everyone could have life, and have it fully.”
So when you and I are like Peter and things in our daily lives just don’t add up, the expected results don’t show or simply when we want to make sure we follow His best plan for the next step in our life journey, we can simply turn to Him and ask:
“ Lord where do you say I should throw my nets next?”
For when the Son of God is involved, and when you and I respond to His loving Presence and His Word, unexpected things take place; the fish are at the rendezvous, new solutions and provision come, streams appear in the desert, bones turn into armies, lepers are cleansed, multitudes are nourished, demons are banished, new ways appear in the wilderness and new visions are born.
The Kingdom of God brakes in with hope, revelation and much joy!
I am so glad and thankful that we were not meant to fish alone.