4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. John 21:4-6 (NIV)
Eighteen months ago, during a lectio divina exercise on John 21 in group spiritual direction, God said to me that I had been fishing from the wrong side of the boat. I fought with God a while over that, because I didn’t like what that could mean. I tried shifting that word to my church, where I had been heavily involved doing ministry, that we should focus our efforts differently. But eventually, three months later, it was clear to me that I needed to move my family and my ministry to a new church.
That change was painful, for me, for my family, and for the church family we were leaving. Despite knowing with every cell in my body that this was right, it hurt. I had invested so much, and so deeply, in the life of that church. I had taught, led, preached, sung, guided, and built friendships that will last a lifetime.
So we moved our family, to a church where I had served as a volunteer, an intern during seminary, and on staff for a while. Our son had attended preschool there, and my husband had attended with me in early days of our relationship, and again after I had retired from pastoral staff at Fremont Baptist and we were between churches. It is a far different experience than the church from which we came.
After two months, I was offered a job back on the staff, and was given the opportunity to support the types of ministries with which I feel great passion – Christian formation ministries. And here’s the thing, this weekend I had the privilege of seeing nearly 400 people in the church draw closer to God through the work of the Spirit, in an prayer conference that I had a big part of envisioning and making happen. And I walked into Sunday school this morning, and guess what was the scripture we studied? Yep, John 21.
I had noticed the amazing experience we had over the weekend, but God wanted to make sure I connected it with those instructions, to fish on the other side of the boat. Hallelujah and amen.
In our former church, the “catch” I was pulling in was small, and not just because it was a smaller church. But when I started fishing on the other side of the boat, where Jesus told me, the abundance of God’s blessing is so evident. Following God’s leading, the effect I can have to bring people closer to Jesus is so much greater, even than what I could have imagined.Thank you, Lord Jesus.