I find it rather interesting that the term ‘gone fishing’ is often used to describe someone that has checked out of society or the daily grind. I know that to many people, going fishing is a time of relaxing solitude and peace. A time in which man or woman can just step back from the trials and stresses of life and just enjoy nature. For many, it is an escape and for others, it is just plain fun.
We must also remember that for some it is a source of income. It is hard work for fishermen. They can face raging storms and treacherous waters. Life-threatening temperatures and winds could end their very life without warning! I know that this is not the common picture we want to see as we imagine casually sitting on the shore or lazily drifting upon calm waters waiting for the fish to bite.
The fishermen 2000 years ago fished a little different than we do today. There was no hydraulic rigging for commercial fishermen. It was all done by hand. They would cast their nets into to the sea and then they would draw them back out by hand. It was a labor of great proportions. Being this work was such a daunting task, does it make you wonder why the disciples went back to it when Jesus died?
I was studying in the book of John the other day when I came across this thought. After walking with the master for a few years, literally covered in his dust from following so closely, why would they choose to go back to their old lives? It is odd to me that without Jesus to physically follow around they would not see the work that needed to be done. Did they learn nothing?
I then thought about my own life…
When God changed the direction in my life did I still follow? I realized that there were times when I did not see exactly what God’s plan was for me so I just stopped altogether while I waited for his to give me direction. This was not good.
Jesus appeared to the fisherman, who had not caught anything, and told them to cast on the other side of the boat. What a catch they found there! In fact, when they brought the fish to shore they counted 153 large fish. There has been ample ink spent as people have tried to explain the significance of the number of fish ‘153″. I am not going to go into that although it is a very interesting area. What stands out to me is a little simpler.
Jesus told the disciples to follow Him and he would make them ‘fishers of men’. I find it almost humorous that immediately after Jesus was crucified, they went back to their old profession of fishing and were found to be completely ineffective!
I find an interesting parallel for us as new creations in Christ Jesus. If we are new creations, does it not make sense that we have a new purpose and direction in our lives? Should we not expect the strengths we once had would be better applied when the Lord directs us? Jesus called fishers of fish to become fishers of men. God does not always change our gifting, he just redirects those giftings for the furtherance of the Kingdom of Heaven. I encourage you to not be like the fishermen who return to their old life the moment that they are not led by the hand. Take note of the worthy calling God has called you into and pursue it with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength!