What It Means to Become a Fisher of Men

“Follow me, and you will become fishers of men.”

When I started my study on Mark this past week, that word, “become” in Mark 1:17 kept hopping out at me over and over again, one reason, I guess, is that it was missing in that jaunty little tune from childhood: “I will make you fishers of men, if you follow meeee!”: but sure enough, it’s become in the ESV version.  Become involves a process.  And as a woman in my study group pointed out, there’s all kinds of life application in this tiny verse.
Being a real fisherman means:
-early mornings
-sometimes late nights
-mending nets
-sea sickness, depending on the water that day (see this for more insight)
-physical exhaustion
-hope and disappointment 
-casting out, pulling up not getting a Single. Thing. All. Day.   This was the scenario in Luke 5: 1-10:
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, 2he saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let downb the nets for a catch.
5Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.
6When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7So 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.
8When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!9For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.”

11So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
They had practical experience up until this point, they were weathered in every sense of the word, but here is where the faith test starts to come in.
There would be days where they would pull up seaweed, days when they would try it on their own strength, by their own might, and nothing would happen.  But then there were days when they would watch Jesus work, and they would see the harvest with their eyes, and they would be amazed, and overwhelmed at the numbers and they would be insecure, fearful, for indeed the harvest was plentiful but their numbers were few.
Peter, Andrew, James, John…the fishermen
Men who, for the most part had no education, just a good work ethic, strong arms, wind-chapped cheeks.  They had weathered the literal storms, would they be able to face the figurative ones as well?
Sometimes yes.
Other times no.
They would lose hope in feeding the multitudes, they would ask that the pesky children go away, they would be scared out of their wits in a real storm and they would fall asleep at a critical time, betray him, deny him.  But you, Jesus, chose them with care, with purpose, because you saw their potential.  You saw that would catch on fire with the Holy Spirit, that they would go on and preach the resurrection, write books, be tortured and yes, killed for your sake, for Your name.  Thank you for choosing the lowly to shame the humble.  Thank you for trusting us when we don’t trust you, when we doubt, scream, run away because you always have and you will always see what we are becoming.

Hand Me the Barf Bag, Please and Other Ways to Handle Turbulence

Somehow, on the phone last night, my sister and I got on the subject of flying.  She doesn’t fly much, in fact, the last time she did was to visit me about a year and a half ago.  I thought that I had somehow dodged the inherited family bullet when it came to issues of motion sickness until after I had my daughter.  Now, pushing her on one of those new-fangled twirly devices on the super-modern playground with plastic mulch has my stomach upset after about 20 seconds.
My sister was sharing that, when they hit a rough patch in their flight pattern, she of course started feeling sick and immediately asked the flight attendant for a bag—and everyone started staring.  The flight attendant, I guess despite protocol was more concerned with keeping the peace on her row (can we say “chain reaction”?) kindly gave my sister permission to go back to the bathroom and figure things out from there. 
I’ve been going through some turbulence myself the last 24 hours or so, and again human nature always asks “why?” and here was God’s answer this morning as I did my daily stretches, maybe the rush of blood to the head helped: [is that why they recommend people put their head between their knees when feeling faint?]
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Perseverance must finish it’s work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask of God, who freely gives to all without finding fault.  But when he asks, he must believes and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1: 2-6)
Whatever the “way out” of your turbulent situation—whether it’s the bag, a brisk walk, a change in perspective or just standing there, firm on a conviction, know that that the bumpy ride is producing something far better in you than you could ever expect, so hang on and keep looking toward the destination.

He Meets Us Where We Are: Four Scenarios, Same God

When we are about to enter into battle.

Joshua 5: 13-15:
Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand.  Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
 “Neither, “ he replied, “but as the commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”  Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”
The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
When we are under duress.
I Kings 19: 9-12:
There he [Elijah] went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty.  The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword.  I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  After the fire came a gentle whisper.
When we are doing our job.
Isaiah 6: 1-4:
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.  Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.  And the were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 
When we take an incredibly unpopular stand.
Daniel 3: 19-25:
Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed.  He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace.  So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace.  The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, O king.”
He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

Awake, my soul!

Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.

I will praise you, O Lord among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.

For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.