Years ago there was a man who spent his life dreaming about the big win, the day he would be heralded as the best. He was defined by what he did, and his livelihood depended upon his performance. He was a passionate man, a contender. He was a fisherman. His name was Simon.
Here is his story:
Simon had just finished an awful performance. He had fished all night and caught nothing. He was a talented professional whose livelihood and reputation depended largely on his ability to perform. While he was washing his nets of defeat in the early morning, he began to eavesdrop on the powerful words of a nearby teacher named Jesus. Soon Jesus stopped and looked directly at Simon, asking for his help. The people were crowding in so much that many could not hear him teach. He needed a better pulpit from which to teach so he asked to borrow Simon's boat. Simon agreed and paddled him out a little from the shore. Jesus continued to teach as the crowd listened intently.
After a while he concluded his teaching. He now turned his focus to Simon as the conversation became very personal between two men. Jesus offered up a direct challenge to Simon. Little did Simon know that this challenge would eventually change his life and alter the course of human history.
I don't believe that we take into consideration the far-reaching effects that our everyday decisions have on our destiny, the lives of others, or the world as a whole.
Jesus looked Simon square in the eye and said, "Push out into the deep waters and let down your net for a catch." While all eyes of the crowd were on Simon, he felt the penetrating gaze of Jesus. What would he do?
I'm sure several things ran through Simon's mind. First, he might have reasoned that he was the fisherman and that he would know more about fishing and where the fish were than Jesus would. Second, the deep waters presented a significant risk to a small boat. Out there the storms come up at a moment's notice, the waves are big, and the winds are dangerous. Third, this was his boat; he was the captain. He always called the shots. What would it say to the people if he gave in, especially if he failed or got caught in a storm?
It is no different for you. The decision facing you is basically about who is the captain of your ship.
Simon answered the challenge by saying that he had competed hard all night and experienced great failure. In fact, hours of effort had ended in complete futility. Simon, in a move that probably surprised even himself, then said, "However, because you asked, I will."
It was an act of faith and obedience to the teacher, even though conventional wisdom frowned on taking the small vessel out into the deep, there was something about Jesus that stirred the heart of Simon. His teaching, his countenance, his personal challenge all moved Simon to trust. Little did he know that because the voice of the master came from within the boat, there was ultimately no risk involved in this venture. Jesus was going with him. The real risk was not to go.
Simon paddled out into the deep, a speck on the horizon for those on the shore. He then let down the nets and experienced something he had always dreamed of. He witnessed the greatest success of his career. The success was so overwhelming that he signaled to his partners to help with the catch. They caught so many fish that both boats began to sink.
It was during this dream come true, at the moment of his greatest triumph, that a paradigm shift took place. Simon realized for the first time that he was in the presence of the author of success. This teacher was indeed who he said he was, the son of God.
Simon's response was one of awe and fear as he fell to his knees among the mess of fish, sensing for the first time in his life that there was a God, and that he was in the boat with God's Son. When a person has that experience, the Bible says that the scales of unbelief begin to fall from their eyes, and they see for the first time the enormous chasm that exists between a Holy God and a sinful man. Initially, Simon was so overwhelmed that all he could do was beg the teacher to leave.
It was then that Jesus reached out his hand to Simon and said, "Don't be afraid."
Not only was the teacher the author of success, He was and is the remover of fear. While life is tough and the prospects of dying someday even tougher; the teacher offered ultimate security in an insecure world. Then Jesus presented a call, which is the same to all of us. "Follow me, and I will make you a fisher of men."
Jesus gave Simon the offer of a life of significance. Would he take the challenge? Would he follow the call? Or would he stay with the fish seeing them as the path to opportunity and fulfillment?
Like Simon, each of us is at a crossroads. We have a choice.