Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Fish there

Fish there

As the captain scans the watery expanse for feeding birds, I am distracted by thoughts of Simon Peter.

We haven’t caught a fish for hours and the Wye, a river that empties into the Chesapeake Bay, seems vast and empty. Birds might show us where the fish are.

Under a radiant sunrise, our initial catch had been promising. Our guide for the day is a seasoned fisherman with a wealth of stories of a waterman’s life -- stories he shares with us as he powers his boat from one hopeful spot to another. He loves his life on the bay. I can tell he’s frustrated that he can’t find us striped bass to catch.

Which brings me back to Simon Peter. As we drift and watch, I can clearly imagine him in a boat gently rocking in the waves (like I am), a skillful fisherman (like I am not) worn out from an ineffective night as Jesus turns to him and says, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” (Luke 5:4) I wonder what look I would receive if I pointed to a spot some distance away and said, “Fish there.”


Jaime, our captain, has a depth finder that reveals fish as pixelated blobs. Peter had nothing but intuition, luck and a work ethic born of desperation. Fish were food. They were a need, not a sport. Fishing was Peter’s life.

And yet, when he would reach the shore, Peter would walk away from his nets, leaving behind the world he knew. Why? What hooked him?

The miraculous catch that Jesus provided profoundly affected Peter. The rush of adrenaline as he pulled in the nets was quickly followed by a piercing sense of unworthiness as he realized who Jesus was. But the abundance of the catch shouldn’t be overlooked. This was not Jesus showing off. Everything he did had a purpose and a message. In this, I hear Jesus saying, “Simon, I know what you need. And if you trust me, I will not only meet your needs. My provision will overwhelm you. It will overflow your capacity to take it all in. From here on, if you follow, nothing we do together will be small.”

Who wouldn’t leave behind nets that were too meager for a promise that big?

Jesus, what are you calling us to today? What do you wish to have overflow our nets? Forgive us when we come to our life in you with a work ethic born of desperation. You have demonstrated to us an abundant love. And that love bids us to follow.


Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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