Encouragement and hope
Here is the good news for today from today's gospel A word of great encouragement and hope. Hope is the unique signature of the Christian gospel. What makes a Christian a Christian is this inability to quit hoping. A new gift from God is at work on our behalf, at all times in all circumstances.
The crowds had pressed Jesus right up to the edge of the water at the Sea of Galilee to hear the Word of God. There he came upon three defeated men. They had fished all night and had only an empty boat to show for their efforts. They had worked hard but had failed. It was a terrible, horrible, a very bad day.
There is a short story called about a young man who had just signed for his favourite football club, at his first football game, he beats three men before scoring from 25 yards. His teammates looked at him with awe. His coach said, "You're going to have quite a future around here." His girlfriend awarded him with a kiss after the game. This young man Shaw has the feeling that life is completely satisfying and rewarding.
But nothing in the rest of his life ever lives up to that day again. His football experience is equally disappointing. His marriage sours. The pain of failure is even greater because he remembers thinking on a perfect day many years before that life would always be that pleasant, satisfying and rewarding.
Life does not stand still. There isn't a once-for-all experience. It was Winston Churchill who said, "Success is never final. Failure is never fatal. It is courage that counts."
There are going to be bad days. Sometimes we are going to fall on our respective faces. These failures don't have to be endings. They can be the avenue to experience God's grace more widely and more deeply.
Jesus of Nazareth gets into the boat with the three defeated men. He sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had ceased teaching, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." Put out into the deep our lives are often fenced in by low expectations. The worst sin is to aim too low.
We have to learn to make room for God." We calculate and estimate, and say that this and that will happen, and we forget to make room for God to come as he chooses Expect him to come, but do not expect him only in a certain way. At any moment he may break in Always be in a state of expectancy, and leave room for God to come as he likes.
Life is anything but predictable! Human nature is not fixed and settled. We live under hope. That hope is rested in God, not the situation.
At the outset Simon is reluctant -- "We toiled all night and took nothing!" The words of a person who has already made the effort and failed. Why should he want to put himself in the position of failing again? How useless this all seemed.
Many times quitting is the easiest thing to do once the challenge has lost its glamour in tedious endurance. But to his credit, Simon was willing to take the risk. "at your word I will let down the nets," he replied.
To their utter amazement, there was churning of the waters as the nets were drawn up, with all the silver bellies flip-flopping in the air and spraying foam everywhere. There was such a catch that they had to signal the men in the other boat to come and help them. Now both boats were loaded with fish.
No matter how many times a person has failed there is always the chance that the next attempt will succeed. "Victory belongs to the most persevering," said Napoleon.
I can't explain it but I know there are powerful kinds of good that can come into a life of a person who continues to trust, and love, and holds on.
Simon Peter saw beyond the miracle. He realizes the holiness of the One in his boat. He gets a glimpse of the power and knowledge of Christ. He falls before Jesus saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, 0 Lord."
Now, we come to the real meaning of the story. There's more to life than "full nets." One can have full nets and still have an empty life.
Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men." When they brought their boats to the land, they left everything and followed Jesus.
You and I have been put on this earth for a more important purpose
In Jesus Christ, God loves more than we can mess up. He wants us to return that love. The same power that caused Simon to fall at Jesus' feet lifts him into God's service. What a lesson!
Three defeated men moved from empty nets to a full life by the power of Jesus Christ. Jesus invites you to follow him. When you say yes to that invitation, you, too, will discover how much he has to offer. Launch out into the deep and let down your nets and follow me. You'll be amazed at what God will do.
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