“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’
“When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.’ So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything, and followed him.” – Luke 5:4-7,11
As I picture the scene, I can only imagine the chatter that was going on in Peter’s head about Jesus’ request. He must have murmured under his breath, “I’m the fishermen and he thinks he knows how to catch more fish than a man of my expertise..this is probably going to be one of those, ‘I told you so’ moments.” But Peter agrees and sends the boat out to deeper waters. What catches my amazement with this story from Luke’s Gospel is not the number of fish that the men were able to bring in once they re-cast their nets, but what deep waters can look like in our life.
But what exactly does deeper water look like in the life of faith? Could these be times when we feel so alone, isolated and anxious that we call out to God, praying for peacefulness like a warm blanket on a cold night?
Maybe deeper water is when we feel so uncomfortable we freeze or run because the situation is too awkward for us to face, and we want to get away as soon as possible. But God tells us to stop and return to learn how to manage difficult situations.
Maybe deeper water is God calling us to a whole new life. The doors that were always open and inviting are the ones that are suddenly shutting, and we are spinning out of control, crying out, “Lord stop this craziness, I like the way things were!”
For me, deep water represents the mystery that surrounds us in life. The little nudge God is giving us to see the possibilities in the unknowing instead of the predicted outcome.
Recently our regional campuses expanded a ministry for those struggling to cast their nets into the deeper waters. As a member of the Regional Care Team, I have had the honor to work with my colleagues to brainstorm ways to minister to our students who find themselves struggling with tragedy, discouragement and disappointment. Although they have been faithful, their nets feel empty.
Our prayers, encouraging messages or acts of kindness can be a light of hope for others to keep going despite their difficulties.
Just a month ago, I learned that an FPU student from the South Valley was tragically killed. The news stopped me in my tracks. As I read the obituary, my heart broke for this young woman who had worked so hard towards graduation but whose life was suddenly taken. Although I didn’t know the student or the family, I knew she was a part of our FPU family. I picked up a pen and wrote her family a message to let them know the FPU community was holding them in prayer as they dealt with the grief of their daughter’s passing.
On another occasion earlier in the year, I was discussing admission with a student who had to delay her studies to take care of her aunt who was undergoing treatment for cancer. She was discouraged that her education would once again be put on hold. As we continued to converse, I shared with her how her act of selfless love for her aunt was ministering to me. We discussed the gift of being there for her aunt and that there would be a time, the perfect time, for her to continue her education. The next day I picked up a pen and wrote her an encouraging note and thanked her for the conversation.
Jesus reminds us that sometimes when we are challenged, it can be a moment to cast our nets into deeper waters. With the encouragement and prayers of others, we can drum up the strength to keep going and experience the mystery of God’s abundance. At FPU these are the moments when we can, as GEIST says, Transform Purposefully by accompanying others in their journey. As a community may our challenges be turned into surprises and may we know the possibilities that deeper waters can bring if we have the faith like Peter to say, “Yes, Lord.”