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Try and picture the scene, maybe you are there on the shore of the lake, one of the fishermen. You’ve been out all night fishing; rowing back and forth across the lake.Hauling in empty nets time after time after time. The day is dawning and you return to shore: tired; hungry; frustrated; disheartened. Nagging thoughts - wondering why you didn’t catch anything; what about your family? No fish – no money. How will you be able to pay the heavy taxes and tolls?

You’re sitting there cleaning and mending your nets, ready for breakfast, ready for sleep. And then you notice a wandering preacher with a huge crowd following him. You don’t think too much of it until you see him get into one of the boats and Simon Peter rowing him out a little way from shore. And then you see Simon Peter rowing further and further out into the deep part of the lake and letting down his nets. What on earth is Simon Peter doing? Has he lost the plot? Has the strain of catching nothing got to him and led him to do ridiculous things?

And Jesus said - “Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch”.

How can this man who is not a fisherman, say with certainty there will be a catch. What does he know that others didn’t? How can he be so sure? It makes no sense at all!

“Simon Peter answered, Master we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets”.

Why doesn’t Simon Peter say “we tried, it didn’t work, and I’m going back in to shore”? It would be understandable if he had said that, given the fact that they had caught nothing at night even though it was the best time for net-fishing.

Anyway they went out deep, and in deep, deep water it would have been harder to see the fish, maybe even impossible. Something had changed. Something that Simon Peter and the other fishermen couldn’t see. But Jesus knew. Jesus brings about transformation and change both through his life and ministry on earth, and also through his death and resurrection.Jesus called Simon Peter to trust in Him and try again – something had changed that Simon Peter couldn’t see but he put his trust in Jesus “Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets”. Simon Peter had to take a risk and have a go – but Jesus was with him, Jesus was with him in that boat, Simon Peter was not alone in trying again.

I wonder how often we find ourselves thinking or saying “no point doing that, we’ve tried it before and it didn’t work”. There will always be this tension between not repeating things that haven’t worked and being willing to retry things.

That day on the lake, the conditions had changed, invisible. Simon Peter didn’t know he would catch fish until he had a go. The same can be said within our churches. Sometimes it is worth stopping things, whether that be a bible study group, building project, Café Church or traditional Sunday worship, because it’s not what God is calling us to do or where we are called to be, maybe at that time. But maybe, just maybe, there are things that are worth repeating; like a bible study group, building project, Cafe Church or traditional Sunday worship. Where are the moments when something has come up again, a suggestion to retry something, maybe there is a prompting within ourselves that makes us want to look at the situation again. Maybe now is the right time.

Like Simon Peter and the other fishermen, we don’t always know the unknown factors that have changed. Maybe there has been a change in people’s hearts or need in the community so that people are more open to engage with the good news of Jesus Christ. Or maybe resources have changed - finances have improved thanks to a legacy gift, or that there are new people who want to get involved and offer their time and talents.

So, until we try again we just don’t know.It is an ongoing challenge for the Church to discern the voice of Jesus, to discern the call of God, to find out where God is and join in. But how do we know unless we try it? May we grow bolder in putting our faith and trust in Jesus to see where we are called to try again and let down our nets and take a risk. And while we do this, also remembering that we do not do so alone nor in our own strength.

And Jesus said - “Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch”… “Simon Peter answered, Master we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets”.

Questions:

  1. Is there something that you and your church is being asked to try again, a situation to revisit?
  2. Do you think you could take Simon Peter’s response as your own and say “Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets”?
  3. What might it look like for you and your church to trust God and take a risk?