Consider the moment when Jesus comes upon Simon (Peter) and his brother, Andrew and the building rhythm as Jesus prepares them for what He is about to do.
Simon and Andrew are exhausted; they are cleaning their equipment so they can get some rest. But Jesus has other plans for them in this moment:
“He climbed into the boat that was Simon’s and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Sitting there, using the boat for a pulpit, he taught the crowd.” (Luke 5:3, The Message)
Things start small. They are in the shallow waters and close to the shore. Simon’s role is simply to keep the boat steady and a safe distance from the crowd on the shore that was probably creeping into the waters to their ankles, their shins, their waists, wanting to be close to Jesus.
We don’t know what Simon is thinking, but given that he’d been fishing all night, he may simply have been lulled into restfulness with the rocking boat and the sound of Jesus’ voice.
And then Jesus steps things up, turning His attention to Simon:
“When he finished teaching, he said to Simon, “Push out into deep water and let your nets out for a catch.” (Luke 5:4, The Message)
It’s time to move out to deeper waters. I’m guessing that this is the last thing Simon is expecting and the last thing he wants to do. At this point, if I’m him, I’m ready to head home and have some breakfast and maybe even get a nap.
But that’s not what Jesus wants from him. And Simon gets to choose: put out into the deeper waters or refuse:
“Simon said, “Master, we’ve been fishing hard all night and haven’t caught even a minnow. But if you say so, I’ll let out the nets.” (Luke 5:5, The Message)
Have you ever thought anything like this? Lord, I’m tired. I don’t really want to. Do I have to? Can’t I just get a break? Haven’t you seen how hard I’ve been working?
Maybe Simon thought similarly. Even so, he relents. It’s Jesus and there’s something about Him, so Simon does what He asks.
“It was no sooner said than done—a huge haul of fish, straining the nets past capacity. They waved to their partners in the other boat to come help them. They filled both boats, nearly swamping them with the catch.” (Luke 5:6-7, The Message)
Though Simon and Andrew fished all night, they caught nothing. Their efforts brought no reward. But when Simon follows Jesus’ advice, when he heeds what Jesus tell him to do, Simon reaps a catch greater than anything he and his brother hauled in.
Simon and his friends were awed by what happened. And who wouldn’t be. What had just happened? Who was this man and how had they reaped such an overflowing bounty?
Eventually, they return to the shore. Eventually, Jesus calls them to follow Him. Eventually, they are no longer ordinary fishermen; they are disciples.
And their lives as His disciples will ebb and flow with the same rhythm of work and rests.
We are not meant to work tirelessly always everyday.
We are meant to rest. To sabbath. To get away with Jesus to be renewed and readied for the next task.
Sometimes we will be on the shore.
Sometimes we will be in the shallow waters, keeping the boat steady.
Sometimes we will put out to the deep waters where the bounty of blessing is overflowing.
And we will always need to return to the shore to rest and to fellowship with Jesus over a meal as we look out over the sea and discuss what comes next.
Where are you today? Me? I’m on the shore for some much-needed time with my Savior.