I’m in a phase of life where I have a lot of things to do, but no workplace except the home office we created out of an unused vestibule in the Manse. I work for RevGalBlogPals; I’m starting a research project related to RevGals, underwritten by a Louisville Institute Pastoral Study grant; I have finished my coach training and am in the process of setting up a practice with four partner coaches; I have a contract to write some curriculum; I have a book proposal out and am waiting to hear more; every now and then I also work on my novel. It’s all good, but it’s a lot, and some days I don’t know where to start, and most days it’s hard to say I’ve finished.
Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds 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, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” (Luke 5:1-10, CEB)
In the story of the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, Luke takes things a little out of order from Mark’s more familiar-to-me version. The healing of Simon’s mother-in-law happens before he is called away from his nets. Jesus does a lot of rebuking of fevers and demons.
By the time he finishes preaching from Simon’s boat, the fisherman must already be in awe. He lowers his nets because he figures it makes sense to listen to the man. And I love it that after the nets are torn through by the incredible catch of fish, in a place where they had toiled all night for nothing, instead of saying, “Wow, this powerful guy must really think well of me, I’ll sign on with him!” Peter says, “Lord, get away. I am a sinner.”
Step off, Jesus. What do you want with me? Who am I to be part of your work, your plan, your life?
Sometimes Jesus is more than we can handle.
It’s not the first time I’ve tried to figure my life out based on this metaphor of fishing for people. What’s my primary skill set? How is it applicable? Am I using my gifts for good? Lots of days, I keep moving from one task to another, because there is plenty to do, and all of it is good.
Other days, I wonder, are all these things mine to do? Should I be focusing in on one thing? The net is full, so full. There’s a certain appeal to choosing one thing, to keeping the catch manageable. At the moment, though, most of these things feel like a calling, and the rest feel like they could be, and I keep writing, coaching, organizing, recruiting, planning, trusting I am on the right path.
Yet I know my capacity to tell myself a story that isn’t true in order to make life more manageable, controllable.
Sometimes Jesus is more than I can handle.
Peter got it together, in the end (and then messed it up, but that’s another story).
When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:11)
Lord, do I have this right? Am I making too much of this metaphor, or not enough? Help me to see. I want to follow you. Amen.
I’m reading and blogging about Luke for Lent. Want to read along? Full schedule can be found here.