Praying til Pentecost Day 25
"Children, you do not have any fish do you?" John 21:5
"Half Time" was a book written by Bob Buford. In 1996 it had a signficant impact on my life. After reading it, I wrote letters to approximately 200 friends and mentors. I told them I was reaching a personal milestone of 20 years of marriage, and 25 years of ministry, and as I approached the second half of my life, I wanted to make sure that I still had my ladder securely placed on the right wall. I enclosed a card, and asked them to share with me the three toughest questions they could ask me about...
1. My devotion to God.
2. My relationship to Dana and my two daughters, Ashley (17) and Allyson (13)
3. My call to the ministry
I kept the notes, letter, cards, and computer discs that I received from these men. As I approach the age of 60, I find myself being drawn to read Buford's book again, and a review their wise counsel.
When the disciples finally obeyed the command of Jesus, and returned to Galilee, they went back to what felt comfortable. They went fishing. Fishing on the Sea of Galilee was not a retreat into a hazy fog of relaxation, but it was hard work that required a great deal of sweat equity and long nights of casting and drawing nets before their was any payoff.
At dawn Jesus arrived on the scene. He was on the banks of the lake, and He called out to the disciples. Rather from the glazed eyes that come from sleep deprivation, or the distance of the boat from the shore, they did not recognize Jesus. They had spent the whole night fishing and had nothing to show for their labor.
It was not unusual for a spotter to remain on the shore and guide a boat to the ripples in the water that indicated a school of fish. Some people have speculated that Jesus was chiding the disciples with His remark. It was more likely that He was guiding them to a catch. It may have stung a little when a stranger pointed out the obvious to the weary fishermen, but they listened and obeyed what they heard.
The King James Version translates the words of Jesus in an way that provides a delightful play on words. He said, "Cast your net on the right side of the boat." (John 21:6a) The disciples had no catch to show for their efforts. They had obviously been casting their nets all night on the wrong side of the boat. The obedient response of the disciples resulted in a catch that almost sank the boat. "They were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish." (John 21:6b)
Buford wrote a decade and a half ago about the desire men have for significance in life. The first half of a man's life is spent on fighting for survival to achieve a degree of success. The second half is spent taking success and leveraging it into significance. The key is to know what is most significant in life and to give oneself to it with passion and purpose. There is a hole in a man's heart until he truly finds significance.
Some things never change, but changed men have experienced a change in the price tags of their lives. Peter was a fisherman by trade, but a disciple by heart. He once was motivated and driven by the goal of catching fish. The more fish he caught, then the more significant his life would be. After meeting Jesus, Peter was drawn to Him with a passion and a purpose that he had never known while fishing on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus called Peter out of the boat, and commissioned him to become a fisher of men. Peter had a roller coaster reputation. Therefore, on the surface he appeared to be a very unreliable fishing guide for men in need of a new life in Christ. People looked at the white water of Peter's life, and saw shallowness. Jesus looked at the man and saw depth.
When Peter was absent from vital fellowship and intimate communication with His Lord, he went back to his comfort zone, fishing. When Jesus guided him to a successful catch, it no longer had the same grip on him that it had once had. While they were struggling to haul in the greatest catch of their lives, John told Peter, "It is the Lord." (John 21:7) Peter threw on some clothes, and threw himself into the sea and swam one hundred yards to Jesus. He left the catch behind because he was drawn to Jesus. What was once considered a success to him was no substitute for the significance of a restored fellowship with His Lord.
Casting a net on the wrong side of the boat can be compared to climbing a ladder of success all the way to the top and finding out the ladder was leaning on the wrong wall. "Half Time" makes a case for readjusting the last years of our lives with an intensity on what really matters the most. As we enter the 25th day of "Praying til Pentecost" it is half time between the Resurrection of Jesus and the Day of Pentecost. Have you heard a word from God? Have you obeyed what you heard Him say? Are you still casting your net on the wrong side of the boat? Are you focusing too much time on matters of success, but still find yourself drawn to a desire for significance?
Take the next 25 days and invest them in developing intimate communication between you and your Heavenly Father. Jesus calls us to prayer as the means to refocus our attention on what matters most in life. He still asks, "Children, you do not have any fish do you?" Remember, Jesus knows the empty condition of your heart. He is not looking for information from us, but he is waiting for an admission from us. Dropping a tight white knuckled grip on the symbols of success empties our hands and our hearts to receive the most significant gift God can give. The gift of the Holy Spirit magnifies the Person of Jesus Christ and everything else that we once held dear, shrinks in significane to a renewed and continuous fellowship with Him.
Quote of the Day: "One of the most common characteristics of a peson who is nearing the end of the first half is that unquenchable desire to move from success to significance." Bob Buford