This past Sunday in Adult Sunday School (by Zoom) we studied the story from Luke 5:1-11 in which Jesus instructed Simon and his companions to set out into deep water to find a large catch of fish. Jesus then told the fishermen that they would soon be fishing for people!
The curriculum shared with us some words from author Howard K. Gregory:
The invitation to put out into the deep for a catch provides a sharp contrast to our human penchant for the predictable and the routine. It is an invitation to venture into new ground or new depths, but it also points to new challenges in mission and ministry for the church in every generation. We are challenged to respond to the urgings of God breaking into human lives. In the case of Simon, as for the Christian faced with such a command, there is the realization that the most profound and significant experiences of God and life are not to be found in the safe ways and places. Simon obeys the instruction and is surprised.
Our spiritual practice for this week has been for each one of us who were in the class to venture out from one particular “safe harbor” that we feel has been impeding our discipleship or keeping us from encountering new challenges. In our life of faith and discipleship, it is easy for us to become complacent, comfortable, to stay in familiar waters, rather than venture into the unknown or move toward something we know will be challenging, perhaps even a bit dangerous.
What would it look like for each of us to set out into ‘deep waters,’ to risk our sense of comfort? I’m not talking about walking unmasked into a large gathering of people who may be spreading the COVID virus; I’m talking about stepping into an uncomfortable situation, talking to a person whose background and circumstance is vastly different from yours, or reading a book that challenges all of the assumptions you grew up with.
This holds true for us as a community of faith as well. We often shy away from taking risks, stepping into new ways of being church. We sometimes fear that our beloved community will change so much we won’t feel comfortable or ‘at home’ anymore. So we remain in those familiar waters where we have fished so many times before, and we wonder why there are no fish in our nets!
Let’s practice listening for God calling us toward new uncharted waters, even if it makes us uncomfortable. Maybe there are miraculous outcomes waiting for us there.