Doing school online is great for me. Not everyone likes it, but I don’t mind it at all. I stress myself out waiting until the last minute to do my homework, but I enjoy long distance learning. However, what it does not give is that true connection to the faculty and other students, which you don’t realize how significant it can be until you are in it again. It was such a rich experience being in the midst of 15 other like-minded individuals with the same heart and mind, set on pursuing Christ and helping others who are hurting! Just WOW! Not only that, I had no idea what I was truly a part of in regards to the university/seminary and the degree program!
Then, as if it weren’t enough for Jesus to bless with that and affirmation, confirmation, confidence, courage I had never known, humility, assurance and so much more…as if that weren’t enough, He opens heaven over me on Wednesday morning in my quiet time, and literally gives me a directive that shakes me to my core! My heart still beats fast when I think of that glorious moment!
I had been stuck in Luke 5:1-11 for a couple of weeks before I went to Liberty and just couldn’t move past it. Just like we hung out with our dear Samaritan sister for some time, I had spent the last couple of weeks with Jesus and the four disciples He had called to follow him thus far - Andrew, Peter, James and John.
In this particular passage, Jesus is teaching “on the shore of the Sea of Galilee” (v. 1) and as the crowd grew, He stepped into Simon Peter’s boat and asked him to push Him out further; then He taught from there. Then…then, Jesus turns and says to Peter, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish” (v. 4).
I had been reading these verses for the last couple of weeks, but on that Wednesday morning my heart stopped when I read, “Now go out where it is deeper…” It was that moment when the Word of God lifts off the page and lands on you like a ton of bricks. My heart literally felt like it stopped. I closed my Bible and cried. And this was all before I had to go to class.
What was happening in that week was a solidifying of what God has called me to. The best way I can describe it is I could feel my roots stretching down and growing deeper, reaching for the living water of Christ and drinking the assurance of His love and confirmation. The removal of the remnant insecurities, doubts and fears I had lingering quietly in the background ready to pounce on me in my next weakest moment, and an awakening to what I had certainly slammed the door on, any further education after I complete this Masters.
I was overwhelmed and my heart was flooded with joy, dread, fear, excitement and honestly, a little internal war, all at the same time. What?! Doesn’t even make sense, right? I know, to me neither. LOL! Only in Christ does it make sense when conflicting emotions crash together and it still seems okay. Oh the majesty of JESUS CHRIST!
Have you ever felt that tug, heard that whisper, “…go out deeper”? If you have, and it is to something bigger than you; greater than you could ever imagine; if it frightens you to death, literally paralyzes you with fear; if you think it is impossible and can’t imagine it ever happening - it is more than likely your Savior calling you out to the deep. You know why? Because out in the deep, you loose control. Out in the deep, you have no choice but to depend on Jesus and Jesus alone. It won’t be your talent, your gift, your knowledge, your power nor your strength that secures you in the deep - it will be CHRIST ALONE!
Peter responds with what I believe most of us would say, I know I said, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing…” (v. 5a) Right?! Have you worked so hard at something and either nothing came out of it or very little showed itself? You and me, on our own, can produce nothing compared to what Christ can produce in and through us. While Peter has an honest heart, THANK GOD he has an obedient heart because he certainly would have missed what came next! So he continues his sentence,
“…But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” (v. 5b)
We say, "LORD, I did this already! I gave it all I had and it didn’t work!" But have you ever completed the sentence, “But if you say so, I will…” The second part of that sentence can only go with LORD! If you only ever say the first part, then it is certainly not the LORD you are speaking to!
We don’t ever get to that next sentence thus, we never experience the abundance of THE LORD! Peter went out deeper, to the unknown, to where he has never been, and regardless of the result he got from the night before with all his effort, he went deeper and let the net down again “and this time…[this time] their nets were so full of fish they began to tear!” (v.6)
Tell me you just got up to shout and run around your room with your hands in the air! Tell me you see this!
What you have done, in the shallow parts of your life, in your own effort, won’t get you anywhere near what Christ will do in the deep parts of your life, in His power!
What is Jesus just dyin' to fill your nets with?!
Just like Peter, in that early Wednesday morning moment with Jesus, I felt so unworthy! I felt unworthy of what He had already done in and through my life and now, His call to go out even deeper. Deeper into the waters of education, serving others, helping others, showing others the way back to the One who loves them most…deeper into the corners of my own soul for more healing and construction! Just WOW!
Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus!
Are you willing to go out deeper? Are you willing to drop everything and follow after Jesus like nobody's business? Are you willing?!
I know you might be scared to death! You are not alone! Don’t forfeit the abundance of what Jesus has for you because of fear! Be afraid and do it anyway! Fear may never go anywhere, so don’t wait! Do whatever He is showing you afraid! The fear will fade into a whisper then suddenly, when you've gone out deeper, into unknown territory, and drop your net, your net will overflow with His abundance and you will wander where that fear went!
In fact, I'm just realizing, the deeper you go out, the further away from the shores of fear, where the crowds hang, you will be!
Father, take me deeper! Let me follow you with all my heart, all my mind, all my soul and all my strength to the depths of wherever you want to take me! I am yours, and You are mine!
(lyrics from Oceans by HIllsong).