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Monday, June 23, 2014
Early morning rainbow from our front porch
this past Saturday on the first day of summer 2014
"A Fishing Story"
Due to travel a podcast is not available today.
"'I'm going out to fish,' Simon Peter told them, and they said, 'We'll go with you.' So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, 'Friends, haven't you any fish?' 'No,' they answered. He said, 'Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.' When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish" (John 21:3-6).
This week I (Stephen) am in Springfield Missouri for a chaplain training conference. I came in Saturday afternoon and stayed that evening with my friend Dave Simpson and his wife Sandy who live in this area. Dave and I met nearly 55 years ago in first grade when his family lived across the street from mine. We reminisced about our childhood as we always do and the many activities we enjoyed such as going fishing, usually in farm ponds outside Belton Missouri.
Fishermen love telling fishing stories. The big one they caught or the big one that got away. Most fishermen have a photo they enjoy sharing such as the photo of our friend Rick and his palomino trout he caught in northern Pennsylvania. Often the stories are about the experiences they have while fishing.A very memorable fishing story took place 2000 years ago and is repeated often even to this day since it was recorded in Scripture and included a miraculous intervention. It took place shortly after Christ's resurrection. Peter, for some reason, had a hankering to go fishing and told the other disciples, "I'm going out to fish." The other disciples said, "We'll go with you." and they fished all night and caught nothing. That must have been a hard, discouraging fishing trip. Anyone who's ever been fishing knows the frustration the disciples experienced in the daily text. Early in the morning Jesus stood on the shore but they were unable to recognize Him, possibly due to a morning mist or because of the distance. He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?" Of course the resurrected Lord knew they hadn't caught anything!
Dave reminded me of a story from our childhood when we had gone fishing out in the country south of Belton, Missouri, the little town we grew up in. We had camped out overnight in our tent and decided to do a little fishing. Dave climbed up a tree and found a comfortable branch to sit on where he could cast his fishing line in the water. Suddenly the branch snapped and he fell in the water, getting his brand new Wrangler blue jeans soaking wet. He brought no spare clothing so I came to his rescue with the bright idea of building a camp fire so he could dry his pants over it. I proudly informed Dave that my Boy Scout credentials had prepared me for emergencies such as this one. I built a roaring fire and then went back to fishing while he took cover in the tent as his pants were drying out on a line we made over the fire. But rather than dry out they burned up as they caught on fire! Dave sure had some explaining to do to his mom when he got home which she still remembers to this day. It's also a camping trip that Dave never forgot.
A seasoned fisherman knows that he must cast his reel in all directions to find where the fish are biting. When I'm fishing from a boat I'll try fishing from the back, each side and even the front if I can get there. Surely during the course of the night the disciples had moved about trying to cast their nets in various places in search of fish.
But Jesus had some specific and unusual fishing advice. "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." Now surely they had tried this already but Peter didn't hesitate in responding to the voice in the distance. His obedience resulted in a great catch of 153 large fish (v.11).
The story concludes around a warm fire as well with the disciples joining Jesus for a seashore breakfast along with some teaching. I have a feeling that those disciples involved in this fishing story talked about it everywhere they went!
It's always been interesting to me that they counted the fish they caught that morning and the total number is included in the Scripture account. What an authenticating detail this is. Real fishermen keep track of how many fish they catch, particularly keepers!
Have you ever worked hard in some form of Christian service and not "caught" anything? We may serve in some form of ministry for Christ that, at least for a season, seems to be going nowhere. We're not "catching" anything. We don't see receptivity or growth which can be very discouraging. But we need to stay faithful and listen to the voice of our Master and learn from the disciples' fishing trip.
We need to trust and obey. There will be discouraging times and mysterious delays in our service for the Lord. I am sure there was for the disciples and other early followers of our Lord as well. Notable leaders throughout church history had these experiences as well. Charles Spurgeon looked back upon dark hours in his own life and said, "I bear willing witness that I owe more to the fire, and the hammer, and the file, than to anything else in my Lord's workshop. I sometimes question whether I have ever learned anything except through the rod. When my schoolroom is darkened, I see most."
When they first met, Jesus had said to Peter and his brother Andrew, "Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19). Peter indeed became a great fisher of men and in some ways we are all his spiritual descendants. We are all called to be fishers of men. Stay faithful, the catch is coming!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, it is during times of discouragement or bewilderment that I find myself more attentive to Your instruction. My heart is more absorbing of the truths You want to convey when I walk in obedience and leave the results to You. Help me to always remember that You are the Teacher and I am the student. I welcome the wisdom of the Master to guide me into all truths, and sustain me in the moments of silence and waiting. Amen.
After our church service yesterday I joined Dave and Sandy for dinner and their son Rob joined us. He is a colorful young man whose best (or worst) memory of me was the time I accidentally hit him on the head with a tennis racquet when he was little boy! About 30 years ago he was playing in the back court when Brooksyne and I were playing doubles with Dave and Sandy. I went back for a stroke and not seeing him whopped him on the head with a back stroke requiring a trip to the emergency room and stitches. Thankfully he recovered well and now works in technical computer design.
David has a business that makes precision fabricated steel parts such as huge tanks. Holloway America The company has an interesting way of expressing the worth of each employee (about 140 as I recall) by posting large framed photos along the walls of the office area of the employees doing their job. This welder has a very interesting hood.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Finish Well" Video Karen Peck and New River
Stephen and Brooksyne Weber (Click on photo to enlarge)
"We want to encourage you daily in your walk with Christ!"
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