Deep Water Faith
Many of us have faced transitions in our lives: Getting married and starting a family. A switch in career paths. Relocating to a new neighbourhood, or perhaps a new country. Loss of a loved one. Loss of a job. Some of these may be small transitions, and others may be big. Some may have been happy transitions, but others may have left deep wounds in our hearts. How do we cope with the uncertainties brought about by these transitions – in particular, those that bring us into a dark tunnel with no light at the end of it in sight?
As I was reflecting on this recently and I came upon some old devotional notes that I had written in my computer when I was doing my quiet time some years ago on a chapter called “Deep Water Faith” from the book, “The Quest for Character” by Charles Swindoll.
The passage used by Swindoll was taken from Luke 5:1-11. The story is well- remembered by most of us, I am sure. In the preceding chapter we learn that Jesus had just started His ministry and he had already faced tremendous challenges:
Spent 40 days without food in the desert
Faced the devil Himself and was tempted while in a physically very weak state
Preached His first sermon in Nazareth, His home town, which started off quite well but by the time He was done, “…all in the synagogue were filled with wrath” (4:28), and He was driven out of the town and almost got thrown off a cliff
Drove out evil spirits
Healed many sick people all night
Lost His privacy
[Aside to our dear Pastors and ministry leaders: if you think you are facing great challenges in your ministries at PSPC, take courage – for the Lord Himself had it much worse and He really understands what you are going through! At least the members have not attempted to throw anyone off the bell tower of your church yet!]
The wonderful fact is after having gone through all of the above, we come into this passage in Chapter 5 and we see that Jesus set aside time and purposefully made time for an ordinary fisherman to give him an object lesson on faith and obedience. Jesus probably knew that Simon had spent the whole night trying to catch fish but did not have much success. He told Simon to, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch”. Simon simply obeyed and said, “at your word I will let down the nets”, and to his surprise, “they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking”. Simon later was renamed as Peter by Jesus and he went on to become a leader among the apostles of the Lord, a “fisher of men”, and leader in the early church, bringing thousands into the saving knowledge of God.
I suppose this passage could be understood in several ways but here are three which I think might be relevant to us as we face transitions in our lives. Firstly, the Lord sometimes wants to move us out of our comfort zone into the “deep waters” that are perhaps filled with uncertainties. Perhaps the situation appears to defy logic and you wonder why the Lord is seemingly taking you through this uncharted path this season of life. This calls for faith knowing that the Lord has a purpose for all that happens in our lives even when things just do not seem to make sense. It could potentially be easier for us who know the Lord, and have experienced how He works in our lives, to take that step of faith. It probably took double the faith (if this were possible) for Peter who probably did not know Jesus personally at that point of time but trusted this stranger unquestioningly.
This leads me to the second lesson - the Lord is full of surprises, and He can use ordinary people like fishermen, ordinary nets, ordinary boats and ordinary situations to transform them into the extraordinary to fulfil His purposes. All we need to do is trust and obey – and when we do so, we have to be prepared for something to happen. It may not be as immediate as what Peter and his friends experienced – but at some point of time when you look back, you will understand and give thanks to God for His wisdom and goodness.
The last part of this account always amuses me. It tells us that Peter and his friends managed – with lots of difficulty I can imagine, to bring in the half-sinking boats laden to the brim with fish, and then they just left everything and followed Jesus. One can only imagine how much profit they could have gotten if they stayed to sell their fish – they could have become the largest fishing company along the Gennesaret coast. But they understood the difference between the object lesson and the Teacher, the miracle and Miracle Maker and they chose wisely to follow the One from whom all blessings flow.
Whatever your situation is right now, may I encourage you to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5), because the Lord is Sovereign over all and He has a purpose for His own. What do you sense God is calling you to do through this transition in your life? Would you have “deep water faith” and obey His voice today? And would you then be prepared to live expectantly for Him to move and accomplish His good will in and through your lives?