Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Israel a number of times, particularly the area around the Sea of Galilee.
What I love about this area of Israel is that it is much like it was in the days when Jesus Himself walked here. As you feel the warmth of the sun on your skin and hear the gentle lapping of waves on the shore, you realize that this is what Jesus would have experienced as well.
It is also the area where Jesus called Peter, James, and John (who fished on the shores) to be His own disciples.
One day, Jesus was being pressed by the multitudes as He always was (Luke 5). He saw Peter, James, and John on the shore, and asked Peter if He could borrow his boat for a while. Peter agreed, and Jesus addressed the eager crowds.
Then Jesus said to Peter, “Why don’t you launch out your boat into the deep water for a big catch of fish!”
Peter protested, “Lord, we have been fishing all night, yet at Your word we will do it.”
Peter was a seasoned fisherman. He spent his life by this lake, and he knew they were not going to be catching any fish after an entire night of fishing. And Jesus was not a fisherman, but a landlubber!
To his credit, Peter did what Jesus told him to do. In the original language, what Peter said in response to Jesus could be translated, “At your word we will do it, captain of this boat!”
You know what happened next? Their nets were breaking with fish, and Peter was dumbfounded. Jesus had just invaded his little world and shown Himself unlimited in power.
Peter said to Jesus, “Depart from me Lord, I am a sinful man!” In other words, “Jesus, with all due respect, don’t waste your time on someone like me. I am just not worth the effort!”
Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid. From now on, you will be fishing for people.”
When I visited Israel in 2008, my granddaughter Stella and I spent some time feeding the catfish in the Sea of Galilee, tossing pieces of bread into the water. The catfish were huge, but they also seemed to have endless appetites!
In the same way, there is a world out there that is hungry for spiritual truth too. We all need to go “fishing for people.”
You might think that God could never use someone like yourself! That’s what Peter thought. But Jesus used him powerfully to touch his world, and I believe God can use you to touch yours.Let Jesus “invade your world” today. Let Him be the “captain of your ship,” whatever that ship might be. I think you will end up with nets that are full.
Out of their long and painful journey has come a really helpful survival guide, so to speak. It’s a book called Suffer Strong: How to Survive Anything by Redefining Everything. It’s not just an inspiring story of triumph through trials but a how-to book for accepting God’s plan and recognizing His providence even when it feels like your world is shattered.