I come from a long line of fisherman; not by trade, but certainly not just for pleasure. What I mean is, my kinfolk wanted to catch something when they went fishing. My grandpa was known for his ability to reel in a huge haul even when others couldn’t get a bite. He took pride in knowing the waters, what time the fish were biting, and what bait best caught which fish. He was an expert at his trade, and he knew how to always bring home a full basket of fish.
Me? I didn’t inherit that specific skill. It’s not that I didn’t like fishing. I quite enjoyed it. I just wasn’t that great of a fisherwoman. I’d go home empty handed a lot, but it didn’t really bother me. See, I didn’t so much want to catch fish as much as I just liked fishing. I can think back on sweet Summer afternoons, a book in hand, draping the line between my bare toes, so if I got a tug I’d know. I was too busy reading to watch my bobber, and as you can imagine, I got my bait stolen more than not.
Not catching a big bass or catfish was just fine for me sitting out on the lake across from where I grew up, but when you start talking about bigger fish, well, it’s a different story. This morning I was reading in the Book of Luke about some guys who fished for a living. In fact, these fellas had been fishing all night. The bad part was they weren’t catching anything. They had the boat, they had the net, and they certainly had the desire, but their haul for this particular excursion had been paltry.
Suddenly, though, Jesus offers them a specific instruction, and when I read it the words were like an electric shock up my spine.
Jesus had instructed, “put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” (Luke 5:4 ESV)
It got me to thinking… Jesus was telling me to put out deep.
How many times are we in that boat, we have the desire to do God’s will, and we even have the right equipment, but we can’t seem to net a result? Perhaps it’s because we haven’t yet put out into the deep.
Y’all, there is nothing wrong with the shallow end. I like it, personally. It’s safe. You don’t get tired from treading water, and you can always see the bottom. The shallow end is known, comfortable, and you get plenty wet swimming there. But I’ve found that sometimes to really swim you have to go out to the deep end. To catch fish you have to stop being distracted and pay attention. You just do. And if Jesus is telling you to go deeper, you won’t be satisfied until you do.
Almost two years ago Jesus told me and my husband to go out deep. I even wanted to do it, too, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t scary. A lot of people we loved tried to talk us out of it. They didn’t want us to drown, and I get that. We just knew that Jesus wanted us to fill His nets more than we could do in the shallow end.
We had to leave the familiar town, jobs, and family support systems we knew. In fact, just to make sure we didn’t get cold feet, the Lord pushed us into the deep. He took away the security of the familiar, forcing us to step out in the move He had placed on our hearts. We left a failing business in search of better employment, but that doesn’t mean we could see the bottom. The deep can be murky. Faith keeps you swimming.
We traveled a thousand miles with a pickup truck of suitcases, and a reservation at an extended stay hotel. It was the size of our previous living room, and the rent almost three times our mortgage back home!
I questioned, “how could this be God’s Plan?!!”
But still He whispered, “let out into the deep.”
Y’all, I had scoured the internet prior to leaving for Florida and I couldn’t find anywhere to house a family of five within our budget. The housing assistance with my travel company was no help. They quoted me a $13,000 bill for a three month lease with what they found! No one wanted to do a short lease, or they were charging more than I could afford. It was so much more/worse than I had bargained for, and after another fruitless day I had broken down into hopeless tears. I couldn’t for the life of me fix this particular problem, and that’s when I knew deep down in my Spirit that I had to stop trying.
So, we had left our home with no concrete housing solution. We had enough money in the bank (from selling all of our possessions) to last in that hotel maybe a month. Still we put out deep. We knew that’s where we would net what God had for us.
Have you ever experienced one of those crazy coincidences, like, where one step leads to another? I don’t believe in luck or coincidences, but I do believe in a faithful God. Within a week and a half of housing my family in little more than a broom closet, in the worst section of downtown Orlando, God led me in one specific direction for a housing solution. Of the thirty people I emailed, one replied. She replied to tell me she couldn’t accommodate us, but she did have a suggestion of someone who might could. That suggestion led us to not only a bigger space, but one that was in a safe area, in a gated community, at 1/4 of the price we had been paying, with our own yard and a community pool. I had exhausted every ounce of what I knew to do, but God led us exactly to what we needed. And it ended up being better than anything we could have manufactured on our own.
Many times God has exactly the answer we need. He has the exact solution to our dilemma, but He cannot present His solution until we put out into the deep. He cannot throw us a lifesaver until we leave the safety of the shore. We’re crying for a catch, but we’re refusing to let down our net. We’re not happy with splashing around in the kiddie pool, yet we’re afraid to cross the rope into the deep end.
He’s saying, “let down into the deep.”
We weren’t happy, you see. Back then. We weren’t happy with the way things were, we wanted something different, and we wanted God to lead us to new things. But we were also hesitant.
We’ve been fishing all night and haven’t caught a thing!
That’s what Simon said. But then he remembered what He knew about Jesus. He decided, well, if He says do it, then I’ll do it. I’ll let my nets out again, but deeper this time. I’ll trust that what He instructs me to do will work, even though I’ve already done everything I know to do.
Y’all, God is still calling us deeper. Each day we become aware of more areas of our life where we’ve been trying to do it on our own, but it hasn’t been netting the results we desire. We’re realizing that we have to keep putting out into the deep. It’s still scary, but the thing is, we’ve seen the kind of fisherman Jesus is. He does it for pleasure and for the fruit. He gets joy from the harvest. When you let down where He leads, trusting His instruction and provision, the result is always more than your boat can hold!
This post alone cannot hold all the specific, miraculous instances where God provided for us financially, protected us physically, or sustained us emotionally through the last two years. It’s been amazing, and subsequently we’ve become stronger swimmers. Listen, I’m not saying you have to follow our lead, sell all your possessions, and take off to new places. But I am suggesting this. If you’ve been praying for a change or asking God for something in particular, and you’re just not seeing any result, perhaps ask yourself if He is calling you to let out into the deep. Ask yourself if He is calling you to trust Him deeper, get to know Him further, seek Him at new depths, or simply to stop thrashing about in the waves like He’s not able to save you. The thing is, when Jesus tell you to put out deep, you need to be ready to drop your net.