Three years they followed him, the one who on this very shore of the sea of Galilee said, come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men. And yet here they were late at night, back where they started, catching fish…..with nets….and failing.

It’s hard to go backward, back to where you started. It humbles you. Like a board game when you land on the dreaded spot…and it sends you back to the beginning like some sick joke. It’s frustrating, and disheartening to go backwards.

Peter and the disciples had twice seen the risen Lord, their Messiah—back from the dead—back to life, fully and more alive than ever. And yet here they were, back to their former trade, fishing in the sea where they’d seen the storms still, at Jesus’ rebuke. They’d seen their Savior walk on these waves, heal the demon-possessed, and feed 5,000 from a single sack lunch. This Sea of Galilee held memory after memory of the miraculous and the personal.

In John 21, I don’t think it’s unintentional that the Lord revealed himself to the disciples on the same shore where he first called them to trust him. The Sea of Galilee. It’s where Peter, Andrew, James, and John had their first identity crisis. Fishing was all they knew, it was all their fathers, grandfathers, and probably great-grandfathers knew. Fishing was important, requiring great strength and resilience—what today we call, grit. Jesus chose his first four disciples because they had grit. They forged character over the years, sure of what they hoped for whenever they heaved the weighty net into the deep dark mysterious sea.

I think Jesus met his disciples here because they were their most honest selves. Fishing had days of delight and depression; here they would be real. Here they could be vulnerable. They would be called to trust and follow him again until the end.

Fishing and following have much in common. They’re both hard, requiring patience and endurance. Fishing and following both begin with faith. And the question for each of us is—is it worth staying the course, is it worth the effort? Fishing and following are harder if done alone. But when done with others, fishing and following feels possible.

The message wasn’t different; the call didn’t change. Fishing was fine for a time but following is the goal forever. When following gets hard, returning to the familiar is easy. Fishing is simpler, Fishing I’ve figured out. Following means a lot of unknowns, not doing what I want but instead trusting the one who leads me.

Donielle Winter
EFCC Member

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