Put Out Into The Deep
“When he had finished speaking he said to Simon, 'Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch'.” (Luke 5:4)
When I read these words a few weeks ago, they flashed on the page as if they were holding a vast wealth of untapped Truth. I reflected on them but no particular insight came forth. The context is a familiar story. Peter, a professional fisherman, had worked hard all night long and caught nothing, then, just as he finishes cleaning his net, Jesus comes along and tells him to put out into the deep. The day is now hot, Peter is exhausted, and it is an illogical thing to do, but he concedes to the Master’s advice, only to snag a catch of fish that threatens to tear his net. He calls out to James and John for help, and the two of their boats are filled to the point of sinking, causing Peter to fall to his knees and cry out, 'Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man'. Today, as I ponder the events of hurricane Irma that has ravaged our state, those flashing words have begun to take on new life.
Two days before the storm, as it was taking aim, I threw a shovel into the pickup and went off to the county’s emergency sandbag site. It was a much harder effort than I anticipated. I had to hold the bag with one hand and dump in the shovel of dirt with the other. I had to park about a half block from the sand pile and the rickety wheelbarrow could only handle two of the fifty pound bags, and then its wheel wobbled and squeaked the whole way, all up hill, as I pushed it through the many ruts.
I was exhausted as I returned the empty wheelbarrow on the last trip. Then I saw the elderly lady trying to fill a sandbag with a toy shovel. It was a ridiculous sight. How could she possibly think she could accomplish what humbled me with far greater strength? That is when I realized I was looking at a woman of Great Faith. She knew her God loved her and would provide for her. She knew she only had to put out into the deep water and God would do the rest. And that is when I knew I was sent to do the rest.
She held the bags open and I filled them with dirt, hauled them up to her car and loaded them into her trunk. Half way up to her car, with two trips to go, I was feeling dizzy & stopped. I prayed a short prayer for the Lord to give me strength. With my head down and shoulders forward, I struggled to get the wheelbarrow started again, when two large arms attached to a young marine snatched up both sandbags –he was the Strength God sent my way, and he didn’t even use the wheelbarrow for the last two sandbags! Later that day I returned with my daughter and our Lord sent two more young marines to help us finish. God waits to fill our nets.
The day before the storm, my wife Katy put out to the deep. Just on the other side of our property line is a giant dying oak tree. It had a limb, about two feet at its base, which hung seventy-five feet out over to our shop. She prayed to God that he would not allow it to fall on the roof. The next morning we went out to survey the damage. Katy fell to her knees and cried a prayer of thanksgiving. The huge limb was twisted off, cast around its trunk, and off of our property. Again, God was just waiting to fill our net.
We had no electricity for four days. With a refrigerator and a garage freezer full of food, we were blessed to have the generator and fuel to keep them running, and run our water pump as well. The generator is not big enough to run everything at once, so I had to turn fuses on and off according to need. On the second day I made a serious mistake and accidentally turned on the main fuse which caused our little generator to be connected to all the houses and downed lines connected to our electric grid. When I returned a few hours later to check on it, I saw it was no longer producing electricity, and realized what I had done.
Three times I pushed the overload reset buttons and checked with my meter, but it remained dead. I turned the broken generator off and in the silence tried to come up with a plan to replenish our water, and to save some of the food. I was dejected and upset at my careless error. The prospect of its consequences drove me to an irrational act. Without thinking, I laid my right hand on the dead generator and prayed, “Lord, I am calling on your Mercy. I do not deserve to ask you this, but I know you can fix whatever is broken in this generator. In your Name, Jesus Christ, I pray you will fix it.”
I felt silly praying that prayer, but desperation trumped my pride. Without giving myself time to wonder about the prayer, I restarted the motor and the generator came back to life as if nothing ever happened. It was my turn to fall to my knees in tears and thank God for his miraculous intervention.
Who can fathom the mind of God or understand his motives? It is futile to wonder why God took pity on me, a foolish sinner, while somewhere a mother may be burying a child. What happens in the world of Faith is mystery. Worthiness, logic, fairness, nor magnitude determines God’s response to our prayer. It is not for us to know how or why prayer works. It is only for us to come before our Creator with Faith in his Love for us. It is for us to put out into deep water …to throw ourselves into the Ocean of His Mercy. This I know, he cannot fill our nets unless we do.
Holy Spirit, do not allow me to pass by the chance for my Lord to show his Love. Give me a heart quick to pray. Fill it with Faith in your Love and Mercy. Grant me the love and courage to pray for others who are in need of only what you can offer. Thank you Lord for loving me, for providing for me, for being Faithful when I am found wanting.