4-21-15 - The Right Way

I took a tennis lesson once. Once. I learned that I did not know the right way to hold the racquet, or the right way to stand, or move. And all that was just about the forehand! Backhand? Forget it. If I really wanted to learn to play tennis properly, I would have to unlearn all the wrong techniques I’d developed.

Peter and James and John, and the others in the fishing boat with them, thought they knew how to fish. It was how they’d made a living for years – before Jesus came along and told them he’d teach them how to fish for people. Somehow, in all that retraining they’d been through the past three years with him, could it be that they had unlearned how to fish for fish? Because they weren’t doing very well...

They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.”  (This week's gospel passage is here.)

How annoying it must have been for seasoned fishermen to be getting advice from some yahoo on the shore, especially someone who was already pretty sure they weren’t catching anything. Like they didn’t know how and where to cast the nets? Come on! I can imagine the conversation in the boat… and finally someone level-headed saying, “Well, what do we have to lose? Put 'em on the right side.”

So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish.

For every endeavor, there are right ways, wrong ways, and the God way. We can develop all the techniques and plan out all the strategies and forecast the conditions ahead – but if we want to see miracles, and not just good outcomes, we need to let Jesus do the work in us. That’s really hard when we’re skilled at something! We are invited into a tricky balance using the gifts God has given us, and the power of God’s Spirit working through us. It is through those gifts that God works, but if we try to do it alone, our outcomes are not as transformational.

What is something you’re good at? Have you been able to use that talent, while allowing God to work through you? Or do you feel you’re on your own?

What is something you really want to accomplish, maybe something you’re having trouble achieving. Where have you been casting your nets? What would it look like to do it God’s way? Is Jesus calling out to you where to put your nets? That's something to listen for...

The disciples had gone too far down the road with Jesus to return now to their old strategies. Jesus had to show them, in a BIG way, that he was going to continue to work for, with and through them. We too will see “greater things than these” as we learn the new technique of putting our whole selves into using our gifts, and at the same time let Jesus work through us. What a catch we will see!

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