Friday, September 30, 2016

Launching Out a Little Farther

And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. - Luke 5:1-5

I believe we're all familiar with this account of the draught of fishes. There is no doubt, a great miracle occurred that day on the Sea of Galilee. But today, rather than looking at the miracle, I want to focus on Jesus' request of Peter.

At the beginning of the passage, we see the people pressing in on Jesus, so much so that He ran out of room to stand. Looking around, He spotted Peter's boat, and the not-yet disciple sitting there washing his nets after a disappointing night's work. Jesus stepped into Peter's boat and commanded him to launch out a little. Notice there is no record of Peter's verbal response, only his obedience. After all, what was the big deal?  There's no real risk in launching out just a little.

But look at what happened next. Once Jesus had finished teaching the people, instead of telling Peter to return to the shore, which I'm sure is what Peter suspected He would do, Jesus commanded Peter to launch out farther. He directed the would-be disciple out into the deep. Mind you, Peter wasn't afraid of the deep waters. He was all too familiar with them. But that's not to say that Jesus' request was an easy one for Peter to follow. After all, what would people think when they saw Peter out trying to catch fish in the middle of the day? It was ludicrous. Every good fisherman knew that the best time for fishing was at night. No doubt, Peter only wanted to finish cleaning his nets so he could go home and get a good rest before starting another night's work – hopefully, a profitable one. But Jesus had other plans.

Often in life, Jesus directs us to launch out a little, steering us away from our comfort zones. Like Peter, many of us tend to respond in obedience, feeling secure enough in that our comfort zones are still within reach. But what happens when Jesus commands us to launch out a little farther? Do we still obey, or do we question, complain or outright refuse?

We cheerfully give our tithes each week, but when Jesus convicts our hearts about giving more to missions, we hesitate. We faithfully attend church every Sunday morning, but when Jesus urges us to attend Sunday and Wednesday nights as well, we give a list of reasons and excuses why that won't work for us. He nudges our hearts to go out of our way to help a brother or sister in need, but we explain away the conviction, justifying that it was only our compassion speaking.

Jesus is pleased with our obedience in taking that first step towards launching out as He commanded, but often He wants us to go a step farther. Are we willing? Will we go? Peter's first response was a complaint mingled with an explanation:  Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing.  But he quickly turned it around into obedience:  nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.  And because of that obedience, his life was forever changed.

We often wonder why God isn't doing wonderful things in our lives or working miracles through us. Perhaps it is because we are not where He wants us to be. We're clinging to the shoreline when He has clearly commanded us to launch out a little farther. To experience the greatest blessings of God, we're going to need to take a step of faith. We need to launch out into the deep waters. When we do, I guarantee the reward will be much greater than fish.

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