Safety Nets

She sat across the table from me, cradling her herbal tea in her hands. I slugged down dark roast coffee like it was liquid manna and listened intently. She described a long series of trips to different doctors that took on the tone of a great forensic investigation. Doctor after doctor used testing and science to lead her closer to the final truth. A cyst on her thyroid was causing the confusing and cloudy symptoms, and a procedure that is less traumatic than other options, had the diagnosis been something else, is now scheduled.

As she related the frustrations of medical science, which is often not an exact science, I realized that all the stops along the way to the proper diagnosis were safety nets of a sort. Each doctor had properly ruled something out, and then sent her farther along to the proper doctor who gave the proper diagnosis. It is amazing to see God work in such a way.

This image of safety nets called to mind a favorite story in the Gospels where Jesus told the disciple-wannabes to let down their fishing nets after a frustrating night of no fish:

Luke 5 (The Message)

4 When he finished teaching, he said to Simon, “Push out into deep water and let your nets out for a catch.”

5-7 Simon said, “Master, we’ve been fishing hard all night and haven’t caught even a minnow. But if you say so, I’ll let out the nets.” It was no sooner said than done—a huge haul of fish, straining the nets past capacity. They waved to their partners in the other boat to come help them. They filled both boats, nearly swamping them with the catch.

8-10 Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell to his knees before Jesus. “Master, leave. I’m a sinner and can’t handle this holiness. Leave me to myself.” When they pulled in that catch of fish, awe overwhelmed Simon and everyone with him.

There is so much goodness in this passage! They had only just met Jesus, but an early exposure to his teaching led them to recognize that he was something quite different. Notice that Simon (not quite yet “Peter:” he has farther to go before his name gets changed) addresses him as “Master,” acknowledging Jesus’ authority before they have even begun their relationship.

Also pay attention to the catch…what a catch it was! It was so large, the nets almost broke and they had to call in a second boat to haul it back to shore. Every Outer Banks fisherman longs for such a result at the end of a long, fish-less night.

And then came Simon’s sudden and abrupt recognition of his own unworthiness, and he drops to the ground and confesses his sinful nature.

Here is the take-away for today:

1. When we make Jesus the Master of our lives, he provides both full nets and safety nets.

2. When Jesus gives, it is always in great abundance, overflowing our expectations.

3. We aren’t worthy, yet the shed blood of the atonement allows us to receive God’s grace when we confess our sins.

4. Jesus is awesome.

So let down your nets today and wait. Let down your nets and watch. God has a plan for you, and it is a plan to prosper you and not harm you. Your nets will be filled with hope for your future…but sometimes you have to let them down on the “other side.” Keep the faith, fishermen. Long is the night, but sure is the morning.

Trout fishing at Avalon Pier by Michelle Robertson

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