Two fishing stories that have been shared with me, unfortunately I do not know the origins to give credit:
Two guys go on a fishing trip. They rent all the equipment: the reels, the rods, the wading suits, the rowboat, the car, and even a cabin in the woods. They spend a fortune. The first day they go fishing they don't catch a thing. The same thing happens on the second day and on the third day. It goes on like this until finally, on the last day of their vacation, one of the men finally catches a fish. As they drive home, they are both really depressed. One turns to the other and says, "Do you realize that this one lousy fish we caught cost us $1,500?" "Wow!" says the other, "It's a good thing we didn't catch any more!" Another one. A cold winter day. An old man walked out onto a frozen lake, cut a hole in the ice, dropped in his fishing line, and waited patiently for a bite. He was there for almost an hour, without even a nibble, when a young boy walked out onto the ice, cut a hole in the ice next to him. The lad dropped his fishing line and minutes later he hooked a largemouth bass. The old man could not believe his eyes but chalked it up to plain luck. Shortly thereafter, the young boy pulled in another large catch. He kept catching fish after fish. Finally, the old man could take it no longer. "Son," he said, "I have been here for over an hour without even a nibble. You have been here only a few minutes and have caught a half dozen fish! How do you do it?" The boy responded, "Roo raf roo reep ra rums rarrm." "What was that?" the old man asked. Again the boy responded, "Roo raf roo reep ra rums rarrm." "Look," said the old man, "I can't understand a word you're saying." The boy leaned over, brought his hand to his mouth and spat out a mess of bait. He said again, "You have to keep the worms warm!"
And now for a third, where I do know from where it comes:
Luke 5:1-11 New International Version (NIV)
5 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He 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.
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So 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.
8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and 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.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
Admit it, we all love a good fishing story. But today’s scripture is more than just a good fishing story. This wasn’t the first time that Peter, James and John had heard this Jesus speak. They had been listening and following what this new teacher was saying. Andrew had been touting his praise for days. So they were willing to go along when he said, “Let me use your boat.”
They were probably getting anxious as the day went on, they had been out fishing all night since that was the best fishing time and had gotten nothing. They were tired and needed to sleep so they could go back out once evening came.
I imagine they were wondering when they were going to get that much needed rest when Jesus finally wrapped up his teaching. “Yeah, “Peter must have thought, “I’m finally going to get to go home and sleep.”
But instead, Jesus said, “Let’s go out to deep water and fish.”
Now, I can just imagine Peter looking at Jesus with disbelief. Peter knew that Jesus was a carpenter and not an expert fisherman. As an expert fisherman of the waters of this area, Peter knew that fish went deeper than their nets during the day. It was at night – pre-dawn that they came close to the surface and could be scooped up. It would have been so easy for Peter to just say, “Look, Jesus, if you want to go fishing, you can go out with us tonight when it is the right time to fish and after we have gotten some sleep!”
Instead, Peter was already developing an affinity for this person who spoke so convincingly of God’s love and God’s concern for humankind - was offering a new vision and new way of life. Jesus’ message was bringing hope and newness as he spoke of a God who truly cared. Because Peter and his partners were already developing friendship with and respect for this teacher, Peter said, “Look, we have been out all night, and caught nothing- now isn’t the time to fish! But if you want to go out, we will take you out on the water.”
And you know the rest of the story – a huge record-breaking catch is caught! All because they listened to what Jesus asked them to do, even though it seemed absurd.
So want do we learn from this favorite story of the calling of Peter, James and John? First, we learn that everything begins with relationship. Jesus took the time to forge a relationship with Peter, James and John. We don’t see that completely here, but the implication is there. It is in our relationship with Jesus that we are nurtured. It is in our relationship with Jesus that we are challenged, and it in our relationship with Jesus that we grow and are empowered to do things beyond ourselves.
Relationship is the key. Positive regard forged in relationship is the purest form of agape love. Through this, they did the unthinkable, the ridiculous because they had been asked to do so by a person they had come to respect and care about. When they followed out of that love and respect, wonderful, unexpected and miraculous things happened.
My friends, that is still true today. Jesus still calls us into a relationship with him and one another that oftentimes calls for us to do what doesn’t’ make sense, is inconvenient, or downright ludicrous but when we faithfully follow and listen to what he has called us to do, we are treated to miracles.
The question I have for you, is what silly, outlandish, seemingly impossible or terribly inconvenient thing is Jesus calling you to do? We have been talking about the need to provide a summer lunch program for children, expanding on what we have done with WINK to provide meals throughout the summer. Others have talked about having a meal for seniors. Tonight, we are having a concert that allows for outreach to the community. What nets is Jesus calling you to put out and drop in deep water to see what will happen?
All of this begins with us trusting and loving Jesus enough to follow even when it seems impossible. Peter, James, and John had to make a decision to follow and do – not knowing what would happen. We, too, are called to do that same thing. Wherever he leads, may we be willing to follow in love