One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
I think a lot of us feel like 2020 has been one giant interruption in our lives. We had beautiful weddings planned, vacations to experience, new jobs on the horizon, a blossoming business, a full retirement schedule. And then February descended upon us. To put it mildly it’s been one giant cluster. Recently, I saw an Instagram post by the Christian women’s group Proverbs 31 that addressed our need to rely on God during these tough times. One of the commentors posted a very distraught list of what she has been dealing with, including the loss of a loved one. She said she was having a hard time seeing God in the middle of everything. And yet He is right there if we truly know His character. He’s the one interrupting our plans.
In the verses today Simon, an experienced fisherman, had just pulled his boat in after a long, hard, unsuccessful day of fishing. He sat and listened to Jesus as he preached to the masses on the shore. Suddenly, Jesus asks for a ride out away from the shore to better speak to everyone. I’m sure Simon had a mix of emotions. Here he was, probably dead tired but still might have been honored to have the famous rabbi use his boat. And then Jesus really interrupted his plans to get home, have dinner and finally get some sleep. The experienced fisherman was quite sure that another few hours out on the lake would produce nothing – he should know he’d been a fisherman on that lake all his life. Jesus wasn’t even from a fishing family! But something about the rabbi made Simon comply. And as the story finishes, we see Simon and the other fisherman completely interrupting everything about their lives and deciding to become disciples.
God frequently tries to interrupt our “bright ideas” and “best laid plans.” The question for us is when we hear or feel His Holy Spirit urging us to take a new direction are we like Simon, willing to comply? Or are we like the rich king, unwilling to give up what we have and know? So many of us say we want God to speak to us but do we really?
A couple years ago I was amazingly interrupted by Jesus. I worked as an administrative substitute in our local school district. I was very busy. And I wore that busyness as a badge of honor. I had jobs assigned five days a week. And then Jesus interrupted me. He urged me, through a vision, to take specific action each week and feed the homeless for a year. This was not in my plans. But it was something I had asked for. I had been praying for growth in my trust in the Lord. I kept asking for direction. Feeding the homeless in our large downtown was never on my radar. What also wasn’t in my plan was giving up working a few days a week to accomplish Jesus’ vision for me. It was an amazing interruption.
He said, “Do this for me.” And I did. The lessons I learned during that year were ones that no sermon or Bible study could ever teach me. My patterns of worry, distrust, control, over-planning, pride, feeling alone, all were tested. It was never about feeding the homeless. It was about God finding a way to snap me out of destructive patterns – interrupting me and re-setting me.
The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters.Job 42:12-13
I’ve told many people about this experience. And, at the same time I tell them they should pray for something equally amazing to interrupt their lives. So many of them either look scared or even voice their fear of such an occurrence. That’s why I ask, “Do you really want to hear from God?” Because I can almost guarantee that what He says to you will be unexpected and will challenge you to interrupt your life. But like Job whose life was severely interrupted, the amazing blessings you receive will be immeasurable. God has interrupted my life a few more times since my vision. And each time has brought me closer to Him. I urge you today to pray for interruption. To pray to do God’s work. To pray that He asks to guide your boat out into the open water.