Pulling up the Nets
“Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.’ When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink.” Luke 5:3-5
Despite his initial hesitations and protestations, Peter trusted Jesus, sailed to the deep and let down the nets. The water stirred, the nets became heavy with fish. The nets began to sink into the water and tear. Peter and his companions pulled and pulled, and they could not bring them up. Peter looked around and spotted the other boat. He called for help, and his partners rushed to his side. Together, alongside one another, each person reached down and pulled. I suspect that Jesus joined in the work. The nets began to rise, and both boats were overflowing with the gifts from God.
Turn on the television, and you cannot help but be overwhelmed by the latest reports and predictions of the spread and the devastating impact of the virus, economically, physically, and emotionally. The anxiousness and accompanying irritation can leave one with the feeling that our nets are full, and we are sinking. Where will we turn for help? God and one another.
That day on the Sea of Galilee, Peter comprehended that the gifts that filled the nets were entirely dependent on the assistance of Christ and other people. Dependence on something more than ourselves; the opposite of power and selfishness. Freedom is not found in self, it is the sharing, and liberation is discovered in God. What we have is of little value unless it is shared. Nothing we have is truly our own, except love. When we hear of the sacrifices made by many, the need for material acquisition pales in comparison to companionship, listening, presence, and life.
As we sit staring at the dark water, we have faith in the promise of new life. While we may not be able to discern what gifts will emerge, yet we know that gifts will appear. They are slowly becoming apparent. At any time of the day, you can find a sibling in Christ praying through live-stream. I hear from laity and clergy of new and deeper connections being made through a time of physical distancing. I have listened to the word “pray” spoken by those in the media more in the last two weeks than in the previous 10 years.
As a people, a church, and society, it is upon us to carry this collective unity past our immediate crisis. We are all the same. In scarcity and abundance, we must call for help when the nets are full of life or burdened by the weight of fear. We must rush to the side of our siblings in humanity in the same way. Let generosity become our identity. Where we look at one another and see ourselves. Perhaps that is what the church and society have forgotten and now what we are once again realizing.
This is a trying time, and we cannot go at it alone. Seek God and pray. The only thing God asks of us is our faithfulness. Pick up the phone and call someone just to make a personal connection, the sound of a human voice is soothing. Perhaps you can invite them to pray with you. Ask them if they need help. I also encourage you to ask for help. Ask for help from family and friends as this is no time for a steely demeanor or pride. If you need something more, please reach out to both physicians and mental health professionals. I need you, and we need one another on this holy pilgrimage called life.
The water is stirring, the boats will be filled. The gifts of God are indeed for the people, all the people of God.
Photo by Pietro Jeng