Fishers of people and being swallowed by a fish all in one week… that’s pretty fishy to me! What is this all about?
This week our texts tackle some pretty great classic stories – Jonah and his big fish, Jesus calling some fisherman to use their skills to gather people, and Paul helping a struggling community dig a little deeper into living in community together while building the Kingdom of God.
I learned as a kid, that fishing can be a quiet and solitary activity. Not being good at either of those things, I wasn’t taken fishing as much as my brother. This could also have something to do with the time I got upset that we were going to take a bucket of little fish away from their Mama’s and Daddy’s and may have “set them free” at the end of a day…
The fisherman Jesus was talking to however didn’t fish for fun – they fished together to bring in a larger catch to sell and provide for their families. For many of them, this was a family endeavor. They knew a lot about gathering people together on the boat and working as a team. They would use everything they knew about gathering people together throughout their ministry with Jesus.
Sometimes however, we hear the call from God (or like the fishermen Jesus) to come and follow – and we run – like Jonah. I would like to pretend I am more like the disciples here… immediately responding to the call of God. But I’m not always that way. Like Jonah, sometimes I am called to do things I don’t want to do. To people I’d rather not help. Yet despite my faults, God doesn’t give up on me. In God’s own unique and loving ways, God encourages and continues to call me where I am needed and teaches me things I never could have expected for myself.
A few of you may know that I am from central Wisconsin. Before moving to Chicago I lived in a small cabin on a private lake surrounded by 300 acres of beautiful forest full of hiking trails – all 10 minutes from favorite grandparents. I loved my job working with young campers, staff, and families. I loved swimming in the lake, leading hikes, and roasting marshmallows after worship on the beach. Thoughts of Chicago – completely frightened me.
God was calling me to go, and I was refusing.
No one could have convinced me how I would fall in the love with the city – it’s people, it’s beautiful buildings, the lake. I never could have imagined working with children and families at the Temple or having summer camp in a church in Rogers Park.
And God continued to call.
Thank the Lord that God is smarter and more stubborn than I am. It has been an amazing journey and I won’t trade it for anything. The education that I have gained studying at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary has continued to shape me and knowing who I am as a beloved child of God. I have made some wonderful friends, and I meet my wonderful husband.
Both of these texts continue to speak to us about calling, and also shed light upon the importance of community. When Jonah spoke God’s warning to Nineveh – they heard it, repented, and were saved. When Jesus called the fisherman by the sea they joined his community and were forever changed. There seems to be something here about participating with others and the messages of God…
So I wonder, my friends…
I wonder how God is calling to you today – to leave your boat and follow – or get in your boat and go somewhere?
I wonder how your life will be changed as you answer that call? How will the community and the kingdom of God be changed?
I wonder how we can come together and encourage one another – in ways that we will never be the same again.
Dear Lord, the God of all wisdom, you know the things that we fear and that we reject like Jonah did. Continue to move in our hearts that we may hear your voice and like the disciples, have the courage to follow you. Help us to trust in the movements of the Spirit to continue to strengthen the communities we belong to, building the Kingdom on earth. In your great name we pray, Amen.