I love to soak in a story about Jesus in one of the gospels. A while back, I spent quite time reflecting on an early encounter of Jesus and one of his first followers, Peter. As you read this story, see if you can imagine the scene:
1One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3He 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.
4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
5Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
6When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7So 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.
8When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10and 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.” 11So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
Luke 5:1-11 NIV
Jesus uses the everyday stuff of our lives to accomplish his purposes. Peter’s boat becomes a platform for him to speak on behalf of God. Our lives can become the channel through which Jesus speaks and works.
Jesus is not just an expert on spiritual life or religious life. He is the master of life itself. When he gives Peter fishing advice, Peter isn’t too keen on trusting the wisdom of a rabbi about his chosen profession. He figures rabbis know synagogue business, but not the fishing business. He’s wrong.
And Jesus understands our lives and our work better than we do. He is a source of practical wisdom and insight about every facet of our lives. Is there some part of your life where you wonder how Jesus could mentor, counsel, or even coach you? Every bit of wisdom you could hope for is in him.
So when Peter follows Jesus’ advice to try again after an empty night of fishing, Peter is reluctant but responsive. There are going to be times when we don’t feel we’ve accomplished much when Jesus just might invite us to “try again.” Persistence is key to fruitfulness. So is responsiveness to the encouraging counsel of Jesus.
The invitation of Jesus to Peter and his friends was offered in the language of their profession. From now on, they would fish for people instead of, well, for fish. How might that sound today in the language of other professions?
You get the idea. How about your job? What would the invitation of Jesus sound like if he framed it in terms of your actual work?
Jesus is not just a master of religious or spiritual life, but of all life, every part of our life, our whole life.