Saturday, April 17, 2010

From Fishermen to Fishers of Men...

(photo from
You've heard me talk about fishing before, and how much I once enjoyed it. Now that the house is done, I think I'm going to get back into it. I really do love it. I'll admit that since I almost flipped my boat a few years ago, I have no desire whatsoever to get the Bomber out, crank up that 90 horsepower Johnson, and start busting waves. But I have another boat too. A small one. It's only 9 feet long, and I only have a trolling motor on it. I can slip into ponds and watersheds, the wildlife refuges, and the backs of bays and nobody even knows I'm there. No waves, no boat traffic, no noise, and I can just fish.

One of the things that I wondered about while I was in Israel, was what it must have been like to fish on the Sea of Galilee. Where we were at on the lake, there were no huge marinas like we have scattered all over Kentucky Lake, no personal boat docks dotting the shoreline, in fact, there were very few boats on the lake at all. I wondered to myself where all of the fishermen were. After all, that is something that we hear so much about in scripture. But they weren't there.

We spent 4 days in Galilee, and I can count on one hand the number of fishing boats we saw. The ones we did see were trawlers, and not the little wooden boats we imagine from scripture, but even then just one or two. Wouldn't it be cool if the reason we didn't see that many fishermen was because they had taken Jesus up on his invitation?

Matthew 4 says this: "As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake for they were fishermen. 'Come, follow me,' Jesus said, 'and I will make you fishers of men.' At once they left their nets and followed him."

As one who has left his net and followed him, I can respect any struggle that they might have had at that moment, but scripture records none at all. That makes me wonder why I struggled with the invitation for so long. It took me 8 years to lay down my nets, yet for Simon and Andrew, it was an immediate response. The same was true for James and John. So why do we struggle with becoming fishers of men? And I'm not just talking about calls to ordained ministry. We are all given the invitation to lay down our nets and follow.

For me, I'll be honest, it was the itinerancy. I knew how our system worked, and I did not want to uproot my wife and daughters every three or four years and move to a new church, new town, new school. And I admit, I still struggle with that, and I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to deal with it. But on a lighter side, another reason I struggled with laying down my nets is the fact that I knew I would lose my Sunday afternoon nap, and I have. Isn't that silly?

But it just proves that we have a whole list of reasons as to why we can't lay down our nets and become fishers of men. Some of them are very much legitimate, some, not so much. My dad would call it making soup. A neighbor asked to borrow his neighbor's rake and was told "No." When asked why, the neighbor said, "Because I'm making soup." The first neighbor then asked, "What does your making soup have to do with me borrowing your rake?" The other neighbor said, "Nothing, but if I don't want you to use my rake, one excuse is as good as another."

Maybe it's time we took a little more seriously the call the lay down our nets and stopped making soup. Just a thought.


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