Topic: Matthew 4:19
I took Chandler for his first camping trip this week to say good-by to summer and give him a great send-off for his first day of Kindergarten. We ended up with an empty campsite to ourselves, and an all-around great experience that included catching his first fish. It was a nice fat rainbow trout that would have cooked up beautifully had we kept it.
Now the whole time leading up to this moment, he had talked of nothing but bringing a couple fish home for dinner, but the one thing Chandler hadn't counted on was the fact that eating a fish means it has to die first. There was no way he could have been prepared for the reality of seeing a fish flop around gasping for water. I even had it on ice for a moment when Chandler announced he didn't want to take it home; he wanted to put it back in the water. So I quickly threw it back in, and for a moment it floated upside down, and then flipped itself over and swam away.
So somewhere in the Kern River, or maybe in Lake Isabella by now, is a very lucky rainbow trout that has seen the inside of an ice chest and lived to tell about it.
When Jesus told Peter he was going to fish for men instead of fish, His disciples were used to a different style of fishing. They primarily used nets to capture a number of fish and gather them in. Baiting a fish, deceiving it, hooking it, reeling it in, grasping it in your hands, pulling out the hook and throwing it in an ice chest were not a part of a fish's reality at the time.
I wonder how many people out there have been hooked by a Christian, reeled in, and still managed to escape and are swimming around in the world with a bad experience to tell about. We need to be sensitive to those who may have been the target of someone's witnessing campaign that did not come with the gentleness, love and respect that should underlie any missionary effort. Part of our mission among those who are not Christians may include undoing mistakes that have gone before.
Remember, Jesus was talking about gathering in a "catch." To do so, you throw your net in the water, hope and pray for fish, and pull it up. It's really up to God to put the fish there, as He did for Peter before Peter even met Him. We throw out the truth and gather in those who respond. There may be one or none. There may be more than we can haul in. That's up to God, not us.
Have you been "throwing out the net" lately? Who do you know that you can be praying for, that they would come to know God?