Our ‘But if You say so’ moment LUKE 5:1–11
As in last Sunday’s readings, we begin this week with another look at the awesome majesty of God as He interacts with yet another of His prophets. It is another commissioning as He cleanses the chosen Isaiah and readies him for service.
The result is when the Lord asks, “Whom shall I send? Who will be our messenger?” Isaiah replies, “Here I am, send me.” Isaiah was called to “Put out into the deep” to which call he was initially hesitant but having been touched by the cleansing power, he acquiesced. This is certainly a case of “But if You say so…” as is echoed in today’s Gospel reading.
These tired fishermen had worked all night but had caught nothing. Jesus challenged them to “Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.” When Simon answered, “Master, we worked hard all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets”, one could sense that there were initial doubts within him, but he and his men obediently lowered their nets and they were amazed at the abundance of the catch that they got.
As we read of this successful catch, the message mustn’t be lost to us, indeed it will resonate differently with each one of us, but it simply mustn’t be lost to us! This must’ve been a challenge for these men after a day’s work.
They were actually finished, they had given up and they were washing their nets, and they were probably quite tired too, but here is Jesus challenging them to come away to a new area, to move away from their comfort zone, to go out into the deep, of all places, for new results.
Don’t we know that if we keep doing the same things, the same way, all of the time, we’d get the same results? Our challenge is to move away from our comfort zones and go into unchartered territory so that we can see and effect change in a possibly troubling situation.
At every turn in scripture, we read of the many men and women who had accepted the challenge and had launched into the deep, albeit reluctantly at times. It had not been easy or smooth sailing for many of them but, once they had opened up to the hand of God in their lives, they successfully accomplished the task that God had entrusted to them.
There was Jeremiah last week and there is Isaiah this week; but then there had been Abraham and the patriarchs; there was Esther, and there were the courageous Rahab, and the indomitable Jael of the book of Judges, to name a few.
There were also Mary and Joseph in their individual circumstances; and there was Elizabeth; then there were the disciples who had followed Jesus. In a variety of ways, they were all called to launch into the deep, and their response could be summed up basically in the sentence, “But if You say so”.
But our reality is that for many of us, despite our prayerful nature, it often seems impossible to ‘let go and let God’— to totally surrender to Him. To abandon oneself is not in keeping with our nature; we like to be in control of our situation.
Generally, we are afraid of that deep—of its uncertainties and of its mystery. What lies there? A person always wants to know before he or she ventures into the deep, but when this call comes, our trust in God has to be implicit thus resulting in our unqualified obedience to His beckoning.
Reading this gospel passage should bring each of us to the point of searching within for our individual “But if You say so” moment. Can I identify my ‘deep’? Is this deep threatening to engulf me with its seeming emptiness or nothingness? Will I allow God to enter with me into this space so that He could bear me up and out reassuringly?
As we journey on into 2019, we are challenged to face our fears. Jesus is the life-giver who is ready to lead us into that deep and to swim with us. He will bear us up; He is our life in the deep.
In today’s psalm the psalmist shows his trust in the Lord; Let us join him in that prayer.
The Gospel Meditations for February are by Anne Marie Richardson, a retired educator and a parishioner of the Santa Rosa/Malabar cluster.