There come those times in the life of every Christ follower when we are faced with a set of choices. These aren’t salvation issues – far from it. But they are faith issues. Growth issues. Issues of maturity and usefulness and power.
One of those choices has to do with your strengths, or areas of confidence. It has to do with whether you will acknowledge that even in the places where you’re an outright genius, God may have a better idea. That maybe – just maybe – He’s even smarter than you are.
Another has to do with just the opposite – your areas of fear or insecurity. Will you be willing to leave the predictable, the safe, and the orderly to do something completely unprecedented if Jesus calls you there? Even if the people closest to you are telling you you’re a complete fool?
Still another has to do with having courage in the wake of failure. Will you believe the testimony of grace that Jesus declares over you, or will you give failure the final say in your life?
It all comes down, friends, to what you do with your boat.
In this case, the boat is a metaphor for the experiences of Simon Peter, that disciple of Jesus who was probably the most visual learner in history. He always seemed to need a picture drawn for him in order to fully grasp what Jesus was trying to teach him. But oh, what wonders he witnessed when Peter finally “got it.”
The New Testament gives us many scenes where something like this happens in Peter’s life, but three of them took place in his boat. A professional fisherman, Peter’s life and livelihood were consumed in boats, nets, and fishing. And three times there in the boat, Jesus presents an issue or compelling question that Peter had to confront.
Would it surprise you to know that believers today have similar issues? Three tests of faith that ask, are you going to stay with your comfort zones and sources of self-confidence, or are you going to move toward Jesus? The next three posts will explore each of these more deeply, today starting with the first.
Lord, You know religious things, but I know my bid-ness.
Now it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him and listening to the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret; and He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake; but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets. And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat. When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.” When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.” When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him (Luke 5:1-11).
This story amazes me, mainly because when I put myself in Peter’s place, I can see a different outcome. Do you realize that Peter is probably witnessing the greatest haul of his career? And he completely walked away from it! They didn’t even count up the number or go make a bank deposit. They just got out of the boat and left everything to follow Jesus.
When Jesus Invites Himself into Your Business
Let’s be clear here. These weren’t boneheads or dimwits. They were professionals of their day. And as professionals, they knew when the fish were available – nighttime. The very idea that this rabbi proposed pushing off and recasting nets in the broad open daylight? Absolutely ludicrous.
I really think Peter was giving Jesus a courtesy toss. Otherwise I don’t think he would have been so shocked at the miraculous haul.
I also think a lot of believers today – especially men – are just like Peter. They’ll smile and nod as long as Jesus limits his remarks to religious concepts like heaven and grace and the Kingdom of God. But what could Jesus possibly know about Human Resource Management, Research and Development, Engineering, Risk Assessment, or Strategic Planning? What could Jesus know about Creative Arts, Education, Communication, or Accounting? What could he possibly know about running a meeting, negotiating a contract, or buying and selling something of value?
Uh, you may want to go back and re-read Genesis 1 and John 1. Tell me then what Jesus knows about creation, education, communication, and people management. Tell me then what He knows about engineering and design, research and development.
That’s one of the issues we all face – Will you trust Jesus – not in your areas of need or weakness, but in your areas of strength or expertise?
What does it mean to get out of the boat?
It means recognizing you aren’t nearly as smart or strong as you may think you are.
It means that you can trust Jesus with the places where you are most secure and confident – even to the point that you will walk away from it all to follow Jesus.
Anybody can give up their zones of trouble or failure. Peter walked away from his business at the pinnacle of his success. At one point he could never envision success without the boat. After this event, he could never envision true success in it.
How about you? How do you know you don’t find your security or direction in your areas of talent or strength? One way to find out: How willing would you be to walk away from it in order to follow Jesus?
Let me be clear: God doesn’t call us all to abandon our strengths… just our attachment to them and dependence on them… and our definition of success. And that’s what it means to get out of the boat.
But you ain’t seen nothing yet… Wait’ll the devil starts mixing up a little Peter soup.
More on that next time.
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