The waves lapped against the side of the boat, lovingly named Sea Note. 53 American students stood transfixed by the scene all around them. A cool, sea breeze was embraced with widespread arms and content hearts after a record-setting day of heat. God himself seemed to breathe out grace and love on this eclectic group brought together on a journey through his purposeful will.
Looking out across the sea, my minds’ eye created slideshows of Bible stories I’ve known since I was a teeny tot in Sunday School. Jesus calming storms, walking on water, calling his beloved disciples to fish for more than temporary sustenance but for men’s souls.
The film paused when I thought of Jesus appearing to his disciples after his resurrection (found in John 21). From the shore, his identity obscured by distance, Jesus suggested they throw their nets to the right side of the boat after a long, unsuccessful night with their nets on the left side. Being on that sailboat a few nights ago in the middle of a large sea, rocking slightly to the flux of waves, revealed to me in the most obvious sense how little that slight change could have helped. This man really thought ten feet away in those vast waters would help them catch more fish?
Yet they blindly trust the stranger on the shore and throw the net to the right side. Immediately their faith was rewarded with a full net, too heavy to pull up from the large catch. The disciples on that boat had spent three consecutive years with Jesus Christ, and they recognized one of His miracles when they saw one. In enters Peter. Impulsive, passionate, intelligent Peter, who had denied knowing Christ three times just a few days prior.
I put myself in Peter’s shoes at this moment: the Savior I’ve followed and dedicated my life to for 3 years has died the most shameful death, hanging on a cross. Although I believed undoubtedly who He was, in the face of questioning, I deny any affiliation with Him. I feel guilty, alone, confused, and shocked, overwhelmed with emotion and no idea how to process it all. I would do as Peter did: return to what I know. From John 21:3 we know Peter and the disciples went back to fishing, their occupation before following Jesus. This caused me to pause and wonder what do I return to when I’m guilty, alone, confused, and shocked by what life brings me?
Often it’s the usual insecurities, surrounded by walls of competency so that no one can see the weaknesses within. It’s the search for affirmation from peers or people I respect, usually leading only to disappointment when the praise is scarce or unfulfilling.
The mental movie continued with Peter realizing the mystery man on shore was Christ. He doesn’t hesitate for a moment to jump out of the boat to swim towards his best friend. All of the guilt, the heart-wrenching shame, the loneliness, and the shock are erased in the presence of Peter’s Savior. And we know He didn’t come for just one man, race, or gender, but for all humanity. And in the presence of His unceasing grace and love, we have hope for the future and peace in the present.
As the Sea Note returned to shore, it blasted old worship songs through the speakers. “He’s got the whole world in His hands, He’s got the whole world in His hands, He’s got the whole world in His hands, He’s got the WHOLE WORLD in His hands!” brought me right back to my childhood, dancing with my brother to 100 Kid’s Bible Worship Songs on cassette for a boisterous audience of mom and dad. And it reminded me to trust.
We spend so much of our lives worrying, but if we would just have faith small enough to move our net from the left to the right side of the boat, to step out of our comfort zones, to trust God’s plan over our own, we’d be much more content and able to more clearly see His will playing out in our lives.
the tall girl