silhouette of man fishing in lakeLuke 5 is an interesting chapter in scripture. There, we get a totally different perspective on the calling of Peter, James and John. The part of the story that we always look at is how Jesus showed them a miraculous catch and then called them to fish. The natural (and unintentional) cognitive connection is that Jesus caused the disciples to catch a HUGE load of fish and in turn we will catch a HUGE load of people/souls/new-believers/etc.

What we forget about is that the disciples were well acquainted with fishing. It was their livelihood. When Jesus found them they had just finished a disappointing day at work…. no fish … no large catch … no great victory. This was disappointing but probably not surprising. Part of fishing is the reality that on some days, at some times, in some boats, with certain poles, or when circumstances are off, you come home with empty nets. This is the part of hook and lure fishing that I am VERY familiar with… I’m practically fish repellent.

This is what separates fishermen from men who fish …. had Jesus not called the men away from their boats they would have returned the next day with hopes for a better return on their investment. Why? Because fishing is what they did. It was who they were. Sometimes fishing resulted in catching. Sometimes it resulted in empty nets. That’s just part of fishing. They were fishermen so fishing is what they did… the catching was the fun part. It was the profitable part. They weren’t, however, “catchermen” – they were fishermen and despite the failings of the night past, fishermen always return to fish.

When Jesus called the disciples into a life of fishing for men (just as you and I) they knew that fishing didn’t always result in catching. Men, the call on your lives is to fish. If you are lucky, and if God does great things, and the Holy Spirit moves, you will on occasion, find in your hands nets strained by a miraculous spiritual “catch”. And if you are human (which most of us are) you will return to shore on many occasions stinking of sweat and hard work as you drag empty nets back home. Count on it. When salvation arises, disciples are made, and revival takes place its the fun part. Its the emotionally profitable part. The catch is awesome…. but you aren’t “catchermen” either. Your call is to fish. The catch is not yours to determine nor is it your responsibility to own. That is the work of the Holy Spirit.

What you do own is fishing. That means when its cold and the waters have been quiet for far too long you have to get up, drag your boats to the shore and work for a catch that God may or may not provide. YOU HAVE TO GO BACK TO THE LAKE. The goal is to catch but the call is to fish.

Last night I went to B-Dubs for the purpose of meeting people and looking for ways to share the gospel. I’ve been doing so at the gym but B-Dubs was water I had left behind. It was the first time in months. There were no fish but I missed the lake. I missed being at the place of my calling and doing what I have been asked to do. I’ll go again …. and again …. and again. I’ll pray for a catch each time. If it comes I will celebrate. If it is still in the distance I will still go back to the lake. It is what fishermen do.

So…. Where is your lake? Go there! Enjoy the thrill of living out your calling. Return again and again. Sooner or later your nets will crack and groan to contain the return that God has brought. Until then you must fish. What else is there to do? What else would fulfill you? It is all that satisfies fishermen.

May we take joy in following our father to the place of our calling. May we remain despite quiet waters and always anticipate the catch that is to come.

Go fish!