Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mr. Noah Built An Ark, People Called Him Such A Lark...

Mr. Noah built and ark,
People called him such a lark,
Mr. Noah pleaded so,
But into the ark they would not go,

Down came the rain in torrents,
Down came the rain in torrents,
Down came the rain in torrents,
But only eight were saved.

To fully appreciate this little ditty you have to envision us 3 kids singing it at the tops of our lungs at the ages of 2, 3 and 4 and either jumping up and down on a bed, or dancing on the coffee table. The complete faith of 3 children, singing our hearts out to anyone who would listen about the faith of one of the great Bible characters, and not caring what anyone thought about it.

I was reading in one of my favorite devotionals last night about the story of Simon Peter being called to be a fisher of men, and what struck me is how he too was told to do something by the Lord that probably didn't make any sense to himself, or those around him, but he did it anyways.

Luke 5:1-11
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, he saw at the water's edge two boats, left their by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 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. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch." 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." When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 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. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" For he and his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 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 catch men" So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed Him.

The crowd clamors to get first pick of the fishermen's catch. But the sea was a miser that night. And the boats returned empty.

Jesus is among the crowd that morning and seizes the opportunity to teach. His teaching of the Word is so different from the scribes and pharisees. He doesn't hold it over their head like a club. He simple holds it up to the light. And thus held, a rainbow of color washes hope over the gray crowd. Colors of a new kingdom in the first blush of its dawn.

Peter is one of the fishermen who returned from the sea that morning with nothing to show for it but a sore back and nets that needed cleaning. Over those nets he now hunches, prying loose the slender, silky fingers of seaweed. As he does the ascending sun warms his chilled shoulders.

His brother Andrew is the one who first brought Peter to Jesus. He told him what John the Baptist said about Jesus being the Lamb of God. and he told him Jesus was the Messiah. Peter followed Jesus around Capernuaum as he taught in the synagogues and on the seashores. Like a Mediterranean sponge he soaked in everything he heard. Which is what he is doing now as, square by square, he goes through the mindless task of washing his net.

The eager crowd edges closer until there is no margin of shore left where Jesus can stand. So he gets in Peter's boat and asks him to push out. Quick to do the Master's bidding, the big fisherman oars out a short distance and drops anchor. Behind them the sun glints off the scalloped water in little flashes of gold, paving a shimmering road from boat to shore. And over that road the words of Jesus travel to the crowd once again.

With Jesus in the bow Peter sits in the middle of the boat, taking a mental knife to every sentence, just as he would to get at the fresh white meat of a fish.

Finally Jesus finishes with the crowd - but not with Peter. As if he is now the captain of Peter's boat, he issues an order, "put out into the deep water, and let down the nets for a catch"

The burly fisherman picks his words carefully so as not to offend, "Master" he begins, little knowing how far or how deep this master's domain extends, "we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything." To himself he thinks, Lord, no offense, but this is my profession. Every fishermen knows that if you're going to catch fish, it's going to be at night when they rise to the surface to feed. And every fisherman knows that when the sun comes up it drives them to the depths, beyond the reach of the nets.

But Peter's respect for Jesus conceals these thoughts. and out of respect he obeys: "but because you say so, I will let down the nets"

As the hired hands row to deep water, Peter feels a little foolish. But he says nothing. Nor does Jesus until he calls out "Stop, Here, This is a good spot." The men take the weighted nets and heave them unfurling into the sea. As the nets sink, the silence continues. Peter holds the rope next to Jesus. This is an embarrassing moment for the experienced fisherman. And he is careful not to look at Jesus or his men. He just peers out into the sea.

But at the far end is a tug. Then another. and another. Suddenly, the nets are alive and jumping in their hands. The surface churns with fish slapping the sea and flashing in the sun. The fishermen strain at the ropes, and a few of the twined squares snap.

"James!" "John!" Peter calls out to his partners. "Come quick. We've got a catch so big the nets are breaking! Hurry!"

Above them hover squawking flurries of herons, cranes and cormorants, waiting to dart in and steal away what they can of the catch.

And all the while the nets pull the men's arms. The sockets of their shoulders burn, the ropes cut into their hands and their muscles twist to wring sweat from every pore. Their words are choppy: "careful... come my way... that's it... steady"

When the other boat arrives, the fishermen team up to pour the bulging net of silver into their empty hulls. But the treasure is so great that the portside rim dips below the waterline, spilling the sea into their boat. The men bail feverishly and start throwing fish back. All the men, that is, except Peter.

A jagged revelation rips through his soul and stops him in his tracks... this is no human messiah; this Master's domain reaches even to the depths of the sea.

He whirls around to look at Jesus and suddenly the murky depths of Peter's heart are dredged to the surface. And he realizes how unworthy he is even to be in the same boat with Jesus. Trembling, he sloshes over to Jesus and falls at his knees, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" An overwhelming sense of awe shivers through the crew as they await the Master's response. But his words carry no thunder. They are calm and full of promise. "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men"

Dear Master,
Help me to be faithful in the little things like cleaning nets, knowing that they could be your way of preparing me for greater things - like fishing for men. Help me to obey simply and solely "because you say so". And keep me from thinking that since I have fished a few waters that somehow I know better than you the course my life should take and the place my nets should be dropped.

Call me, Lord, out from a shallow faith near the shore, which requires no risks and offers no rewards. Call me to a deeper commitment to you. And when you call, grant that I would be quick in my boat, swift to my oars, and fast with my nets. And I pray, grant me the eyes to see who it is who labors by my side - an awesome and almighty God.

Take me to a place where I have worked hard by my own strength and yet ended up with empty nets. Take me there to show me the depths of your dominion and the net-breaking fullness of your power. Keep me ever aware that you are Lord. And ever aware that I am a sinful person. And in that knowledge keep me ever on my knees before You.

At your bidding, O Master, I will let down my nets. And at your bidding I will leave them forever behind. For what you have to offer is infinitely more than all the seas of this world ever could.

~Intimate Moments With The Savior

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