Two weeks until the election . . . but let us talk of happy things today----like the five copies of Crossing the Waters: Following Jesus through the Storms, the Fish, the Doubt and the Seas that I'm giving away this week! (More below). Happy things like majestic mountains----and the mess that we are. Even without the election.
Are you, too, a stressed-out mess?
I spent yesterday in a half fetal position, crabbed fingers on the keyboard, hacking out an essay due that day. Did I even see my sons or husband? I didn’t even read God’s word, which is Life itself to me (hence the fetal position . …) Oh yes, I did make a pretty curry for dinner—and we sat and ate together---my one redeeming moment of the day!
But I fall short every day. I wallow in anxiety. I beat myself up. What kind of follower of Christ am I, anyway? And you, what kind of follower are you? Aren’t we more meander-ers than followers? Aren’t we more wander-ers than followers? What a pathetic entourage we make! How can God possibly want us, anyway?
Dear friends, this is not the voice of the enemy. This is the voice of truth in my (our) inmost being. But it’s not the only voice. In these moments and hours of flagellating honesty, I remember those guys out in the boat on the Sea of Galilee. Something happens there that keeps me going, that turns my mess and yours into perfection. Shall we go there for a moment? (Adapted from Crossing the Waters)
It’s a lost night. An empty night. All through the hours of dark these four men are working the nets. But by morning they haven’t caught a single minnow. How perfect, Peter thinks with a twist of his lips. These empty nets mirror my own soul: vacant.
But a man shows up, and tells the discouraged fishermen to throw their net on the wrong side of the boat at the wrong time of day. And you remember what happens---all those fish! (I’ve seen this myself, how a fishing net can explode out of the water with fish!)
Simon can’t contain himself. His fishiest wildest dreams have come true!! He throws himself at the nets, arm and shoulder deep into fish now as he scoops them, writhing, into the boat. His mind is working as fast as his arms. He’d build onto his house! He’d be someone people knew about. Maybe he’d get a better seat in the synagogue. This is all he’s ever wanted----just one boatload of fish! And it wasn’t just about him. It was about his family, too. He wanted that money for his wife, for his children.
But suddenly Simon Peter stops. He looks up at this man in the boat with him, who is smiling widely. Simon’s mouth falls open. How did this rabbi know this was his biggest dream?
His heart is so full and tight he knows it will split, like the nets. He steps toward Jesus and falls, his body now in the mass of thrashing fish. You must go!” He is crying. He’s fallen in more fish than he’s ever caught and he hates these fish now. This man. Who is he, then? How did he see that school of musht there when nobody else did?
Simon knew himself as a master fisherman. He knew this lake, the way the fish moved during the various seasons. Can it be possible that this man is master over these elements instead of him? Or—maybe he sent the fish? That couldn’t be possible. And then, he has a worse thought: Surely he didn’t create those fish? Simon’s gut goes tight and he suddenly sees into his own shrunken heart.
The darkness of his own heart overwhelms him. The truest words he knows spill out: ““Go, leave me, Lord! I’m full of sin! Please, go!” Simon must send Jesus away. He is too unworthy for his attention, for even his Presence.
And here is what you cannot miss: These terrified words of confession are exactly what qualifies him to be a disciple. (Click to tweet) He doesn’t have to be a brilliant student of the Torah. He doesn’t have to be a happy man or even a good man. He doesn’t even have to be a successful fisherman. In fact, his work that night was utterly futile. All he needs is to see Jesus, to truly see him. After that, all he needs is to know his need. (Click to tweet)
Then the comfort and invitation comes, “Don’t be afraid. Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of people.”
Jesus is going to plant His Church, his very body through these scaly fishermen, and it begins here, with those truest words, “I’m a sinful man! I’m a sinful woman!”
You got a dark sinful heart and you know it? Welcome in, brother! Come on down, sister! Join this boatload of outlaws! Seeing your sin makes you perfect for God. (Click to tweet) But you have to say Yes to the next part---
“Don’t be afraid. Come, follow after me!”
Don’t waste your sin, your shame, your bouts of self-loathing!
Let it lead you to the One who is ready to fill you with Himself---which means with
crazy inexplicable fishy unending
"Come, follow me!"
I’ve got 5 copies of Crossing the Waters to give away! But I need your help! It’s hard to be heard and seen in this noisy, busy world. If you know some people who you think would love the message and hope of this book and this blog (and we’re just getting started!), would you share this blog with them? Everyone who signs up three people or more for the blog, I’ll enter your name in a drawing for a book. (Would you all leave your email address when you comment below so I can reach you?)
One more? I’ll send on a book to anyone with 10 friends who would love to join us “here” each week in Alaska. Send me their emails to me (with their permission!) at firstname.lastname@example.org
(Am I sounding cheesy? I hope not. I’m trying to say, “Come, join us as we follow Jesus together!”)