We all remember the story of Simon and his fishing buddies who after fishing all night caught nothing. I suppose they were all very tired and frustrated. They were just about ready to go home and hit their beds to rest after an unproductive evening when Jesus came and saw them.
Jesus got on Simon’s boat and told him to put out the boat a little distance from the shore. Simon did as he was instructed by Jesus who then began to speak from the boat and teach the crowd who had been following Him. How long did Jesus talk to the crowd? The scriptures do not tell us but surely it cannot be just a few minutes. Was it thirty minutes or maybe an hour? The point is Simon and his fishermen friends waited on Jesus until He finished talking to the crowd in spite of their fatigue, lack of sleep, and frustration of a wasted night.
The story further says that after he was through, Jesus was not ready to let them go just yet but even instructed Simon “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” To which Simon said in reply “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.”
The response of Simon was truly amazing. We all know what subsequently happened. Their nets almost broke with the huge volume of fish they caught, so much so they had to call in the other fishermen to help load up the catch because their own boat was already in danger of sinking.
What does the story have to do with our purpose and vocation in life?
I think the story of Simon teaches several lessons for all of us during this Easter season. Several years ago, I used to pray to the Lord and ask “Lord what is your plan for my life?” I was thinking of legacy, wondering what big plans or service can I do for the Lord, what contribution could I possibly undertake to make my life more meaningful.
Later on, I realized it was the wrong question to ask. The right question should have been “Lord, what is your plan and how can I participate in the realization of that plan?”
The question threw my entire view of what my life’s purpose was on its head. The focus is not about me but about Jesus, what his plans are, what he wants me to do at any given time. It is not about careful planning for the future but rather to see the present moment and the many opportunities daily in following the leadings of the Holy Spirit. It may be calling a friend who needs to pour out his problems on someone; visiting a sick person; perhaps giving food to a street child; being more loving to those around us; giving words of affirmation to someone who needs encouragement.
The example of Simon teaches us that we must always be alert to the Lord’s bidding. When Jesus comes and instructs us to do something, we must be fully obedient. We may be tired, frustrated, or anxious at the time Jesus comes but like Simon we must stop everything we are doing, get out of our comfort zones and just follow the Lord. Drop our nets even if it does not make sense at all. Imagine the situation of Simon following the instruction of Jesus who was not a fisherman, totally unfamiliar with the ways of the sea to go out again and fish after a totally unproductive night. A non-believer would probably have argued with Jesus about the futility of going back to the sea. What prompted Simon to simply follow Jesus? Simon’s obedience we can assume was based on his daily contact with Jesus, a relationship that had developed over time leading him to have enough confidence in the words of Jesus.
Our vocation in life is therefore all about obedience to the will of God. It is about developing a deep relationship with Jesus, a fullness of faith in His words so that whatever He wills, we will follow.
Our prayer during this Easter season is, therefore, to ask for the grace of God to give us more clarity on his plans so that we can participate in them. We should follow Jesus as He directs us. The truth is He not only wants to give us a broader vision of our vocation in life but Jesus also wants to give us the confidence that if we follow His will, our life will be overflowing with his blessings. We should, therefore, not hold back anything from the Lord.
There’s no telling how far we can go by the power of Jesus.