Listening For ‘The Voice Of Full Nets’

We are not so very different than these disciples: Peter and no-longer-doubting Thomas, along with Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee and two others were gathered on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias, another name by which the Sea of Galilee was known.
They are adjusting to this new life without the physical presence of Jesus as a daily companion. The disciples no longer doubt but seem to be at something of a loose end. There mission compass has not yet been firmly set.
So they do, on that evening, what many of them had done to make ends meet before Jesus called them to follow him. They got in a boat and went out into the darkness to fish. The disciples caught nothing, however, until, in the dawn’s early light, the voice of someone standing on the shore directed them to cast their net on the right side of the boat. When they do so, they catch so many fish they can barely bring them to shore.
From emptiness to fulfillment. From absence to presence.
The transformation occurs when they respond to a voice from the shore. The voice of someone they cannot distinctly see—and so a spirit voice, almost, in the un-gathered light of a new day dawning—telling them where their net should be.
And then, of course, they see the voice belongs to Jesus.
Jesus, the voice of full nets.
What a powerful symbol. Relying totally on themselves, the disciples could not snag a single minnow. Following Jesus, their filled net nearly bursts.
Yes, we are very much like the disciples in today’s lesson. Every morning we get up and leave the shore in our boats to see what the day’s catch will bring us. At work or at home. We put ourselves upon the waters and cast our net, hoping to live a purposeful, and purpose-filled, day.
I know that when I set out on my own, determined to rely entirely on myself, my net is so very often empty and I feel adrift in the darkness, waiting for the dawn. But, when I sit still, listening to the gentle lapping of waves against my hull and the plaintive cry of seagulls, I can feel the voice of Jesus within me, the Holy Spirit urging, “cast your net on the right side of the boat.”
When I make room in my boat for Jesus, I never return to shore empty-handed, and certainly never empty-hearted.
Abundance comes in many forms. Abundance, when we fish with Jesus, is not defined by dollars and cents, not by possessions or material forms of life at all.
Yes, it is true that when we fish with Jesus we can find a mission and ministry within our professional lives, one that may, or may not, increase our earnings but will certainly enrich the corner of the world and the lives we touch. There are so many times through the hours of our lives when “net-casting moments” occur.
So there is Jesus, standing on the shore, inviting us to sit down with him and share a meal of fish and bread that he has prepared over a fire of coals, embers that he also means to warm us until we go out on the waters again, wondering what the future might hold and where the spirit voice of Jesus will tell us to cast our nets, as individuals and as a congregation.
All the while faithfully knowing that he is both in the boat with us, when we make room, and waiting on the shore to welcome us home.

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