I am an inherent and natural planner. I thrive on routines and structure; so much so, in fact, that friends who think they’re planners start to wonder if they’re actually spontaneous after spending time with me (hi MLee!). That’s how much I mess up the curve.
There are definite pros: I know how to be productive, organized, and reliable. But there are definite cons: anything that disrupts my plans receives immediate irritation. It is only through great strides by the Holy Spirit that I can be kind to those who mess up my plans!
I’m reminded of this part of my character as I read Luke 5, for at least the 30th time. I love this story.
The opening narrative begins with Jesus being “pressed” by an ever-increasing multitude of people that want to hear His every word. He sees two boats nearby, asks one of the fishermen to take him out so he can preach from the water, and this fisherman, Simon, does so.
After teaching the multitude for awhile, Jesus turns to Simon and tells him, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” (v. 4)
This seems like an innocuous request. Simon’s a fisherman, they’re in his boat, they’re in the water. What better time to fish?
Turns out there are a few key reasons that this is a difficult request:
- Night fishing is better than day fishing. Has to do with cooler waters, less noise, calmer waters. It is…no longer night time. Nor quiet. Nor calm.
- Simon et al already tried fishing for an entire night and caught nothing (v. 5). So they already went out at an ideal time and it yielded nothing. Why would fishing be better when there’s lots of people around and it’s hot?
- Simon and his fellow fishermen were washing their nets (v. 2). That means they were done for the day. They might have even finished washing their nets. They probably caught a bunch of non-fish-but-kinda-still-gross pieces of the sea on their nets and they were preparing for the next night. If they let down their nets now, they’d have to start over washing them.
At the very least, this request from Jesus seems terribly inconvenient.
Before obeying Simon feels the need to clarify the situation to Jesus, saying, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing…”
But even though this is an inconvenient request, and even though they could very well be discouraged from the night’s fruitless effort, he immediately follows with, “nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”
He does. And the nets fill with fish. So much fish, in fact, that their nets start to break and their boats begin to sink under the weight.
There’s beauty in the rest of the story, but I want to pause here. What would have happened if Simon had refused to obey Jesus? I don’t know, but I still wonder.
I wonder because, even though I haven’t fished since I was 11 and I don’t own a boat, Jesus still asks me to do things that I find, well….inconvenient. And sometimes I spend longer on the “Let me tell you why that won’t work, Jesus” part instead of turning naturally to the “at Your word” part.
When I said something unkind to someone who is somewhere between an acquaintance and a friend, and Jesus convicts me to call and apologize.
When I’m already having a busy day, and Jesus calls me to spend extra time praying and reading His word.
When I’m not in the mood to talk to anyone, and Jesus nudges me to call and check on someone, with no rush and no agenda.
When I already have way too many unchecked boxes for this late in the day, but Jesus shows me that my husband needs help on a project. And it’s going to take hours.
These are not martyr-level sacrifices. But I often affirm that I would lay down my life for Christ, for others. So can’t I also suffer inconveniences, interruptions, and even a complete rewrite of my plans for the day? Sometimes the consistent smaller sacrifices are neglected under the pretense that of course we would do the big sacrifices.
But sometimes Jesus is only asking us to go back into the water. To disrupt our plans. To trust Him. And we often find that in obeying, He blesses us more than we would have even known how to ask for.
So with all the inconvenient and unscheduled whispers from my Best Friend, my prayer is that my response would immediately be, “At Your word….I will.”