Do you ever feel like life is chaotic? When things in my life are calm and peaceful, I only have to watch the news for a few minutes to be immersed in the chaos of our times.
In the midst of the chaos it can feel like God is distant.
It can feel like everything is bad, everything is hard, and God is absent. But what if God is actually speaking into the chaos? Into our chaos?
In the Gospel of Luke, there’s this time when Jesus commandeers Simon Peter’s boat so he can preach from the water (Luke 5:1-11). When Jesus is done addressing the crowd, he tells Peter to go fishing. Peter resists because he and his partners have already fished a full shift without catching anything. Jesus says, “Put out into the deep water” (Luke 5:4).
Peter reluctantly complies and is astonished by the number of fish. There, in the deep water, “they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink” (Luke 5:6-7).
When Peter and his associates fished in the deep water, their nets were filled to the breaking point and their boats nearly sank.
Deep water is a subtle reference to our ever-present chaos. At least, it’s a signal that Luke perceived his world as chaotic and he saw God doing something new and special in the midst of that chaos—catching people.
It’s as if Jesus tells Simon Peter, “Go into the chaos of peoples’ lives and throw them a safety net.”
I could use a safety net. How about you?
Overwhelmed at the abundance of goodness they find in the deep water, Peter falls to Jesus’ knees and says, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man” (Luke 5:8).
Spoiler Alert: Jesus doesn’t go away.
Instead, Jesus reassures Simon Peter and says, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people” (Luke 5:10).
This is similar to what happened when Isaiah was called to be a prophet. Isaiah was overwhelmed by the vision God gave him and he said to God, “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5).
God deals with Isaiah’s “unclean lips” and gives him a job to do.
Isaiah says, I am lost. God says, you are found.
Peter says, go away from me Lord, I’m just not good enough and Jesus responds, don’t worry, I’ve got a job for a person like you.
These themes come together for me when I think about my own life. I understand why Isaiah and Peter felt they lacked worthiness (or holiness, righteousness, etc.). In fact, the chaos of life adds to that feeling of separation from God. And yet, God throws a safety net.
When I feel lost, God finds me. When I feel like God should go away from me, God stays.
God’s steadfast presence and determination is just what I need when life feels like chaos.
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