After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,
“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”
Simon said in reply,
“Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,
but at your command I will lower the nets.”
Simon was a fisherman by trade. He knew what He was doing, and yet he worked all night and caught nothing. But at the word of Jesus, Simon goes out into deep water and lowers his nets. Who was this rabbi, this Jewish prophet to tell Simon, a master fisherman, how to get a good catch? We know now that He was and is the Son of God, but Simon didn’t know that yet.
How I wish that I could have the faith of Simon. Imagine the scene: he’s been fishing all day and he’s tired. Then Jesus wants to go out off the shore in Simon’s boat and preach to the crowds. Do you imagine Jesus to be a brief preacher? Hardly. Yet Simon stays awake and listens. Then after the preaching, Jesus asks more of Simon. Put out into deep water. As much as Jesus is telling Simon about how to grab a good catch, He is telling Simon and each one of us so much more. Go out into deep water. These waters that we spend the majority of our lives in are so shallow. We trust God here, and with trust God with this or that, but beyond that we are not willing to go. Simon responds with love where we often respond with bitterness. Who is this God to tell us to go into deeper waters? Who is He to tell us how to live our lives, avoid pain, find joy, and persevere? God, don’t you see we’ve been working hard and yet we catch nothing? Why should we trust you in deeper waters when we come up so empty in these shallow streams?
Put out into deep water…
In deep waters His glory shines. It wouldn’t have been all that miraculous if Simon had walked on shallow water, but the deep water he walked on showed God’s glory. Trusting Him in the shallow water proves nothing, to us or to Him. We become like the pagans and the tax collectors who love only those who love them back when we only trust in shallow water. Trusting Him, following Him to the deep water puts us on shaky ground and challenges us to trust. We trust even though we are tired, we trust even though we’ve tried before and our nets have come up empty. We believe that somehow, some way, He knows better than we do. He sees something in these deep waters that we cannot.
…and lower your nets.
It isn’t enough to merely follow Him to the deep waters and sit in the boat. He calls us out of the boat. He asks us to lower our nets. Following Him out to the deep waters, rowing the boat in the middle of the night was tough enough, but now He asks us to lower our nets and keep working? What is He thinking? He sees our trust in following Him to the deep waters and asks us to lower our nets so that His glory can shine. We lower our nets and find that we caught nothing in the shallow water because there wasn’t anything but sand, silt and washed up riff-raff to catch. In the depths of His love, we lower our nets and they fill, and they fill quickly. Our catch is so huge that we have to call over to other boats for help, for fear of capsizing our own boat. In the shallow water we gain a shallow, dismal catch. But in the deep water our catch is bigger than we can manage on our own. We catch His love, His glory, and His wonder.
Our trust, then, is two-fold: going out into the deep, uncharted waters and lowering our nets.
You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now…
Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior
“Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)”, Hillsong United