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Awesome Presence of God (Part 2)

July 2, 2022 • Life for Leaders

Scripture—Luke 5:4-11 (NRSV)

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to burst. 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. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’s knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were astounded at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.

Focus

How does catching fish translate to a fisherman at work telling a carpenter “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”? Peter realized that God is so great that he can point to a place in the water to catch a large amount of fish, and he realized just how small we are. When the boat started to sink Peter realized that he was drowning.

Devotion

God may call you to do the same thing that you did yesterday. Awe does not need the sensational to occur in order to be awe. We only need the recognition of a present kingdom—a regularly present, not waiting till early Sunday morning, kingdom; a really large kingdom that is powerful enough that not even Hades can prevail against it or our finite minds either.

We see the beginnings of Peter’s repentant (yet often impulsive even after salvation) heart in this text. His actions and speech give us all the good preaching points of a heart turning to God: Peter’s turning things over to Jesus, falling to his knees, and recognition and knowledge that something was different about this carpenter where even the fish and the nets obey him.

In our theological musings and three-point expositions, we miss the practicality and significance of the moment. This is not in the temple. It isn’t even on dry ground. What is ordinary in this moment and common for every person in the Gospels and in the time following is that the kingdom is so large that its king will not be relegated to certain places or practices.

He flips everything on its head. He sent the perfect rule-keepers away sad. And he gathered and called frail children, flawed hearts and weary souls to him. He made it clear—early in his work—that he had say over everything (carpentry, His father’s business, water and wine etc.) And when we rub again the vastness of what God does in any economy that we think we have all figured out, he will show us that we will need to repent and turn our conclusions there also. God’s kingdom is massive.

William Beebe is given credit for a story about Teddy Roosevelt:

At Sagamore Hill, after an evening of talk, the two would go out on the lawn and search the skies for a certain spot of star-like light near the lower left-hand corner of the Great Square of Pegasus. Then Roosevelt would recite: “That is the Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda. It is as large as our Milky Way. It is one of a hundred million galaxies. It consists of one hundred billion suns, each larger than our sun.”

Then Roosevelt would grin and say, “Now I think we are small enough! Let’s go to bed.”

How does catching fish translate to a fisherman at work telling a carpenter “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”? Peter realized that God is so great that he can point to a place in the water to catch a large amount of fish, and he realized just how small we are. When the boat started to sink Peter realized that he was drowning.

Inevitably, you and I will go back to work tonight or tomorrow morning. It will be working in the home taking care of the household, or on an assembly line, teaching, managing, etc. And in the monotony of repetition, we will begin to think some form of our own “This is it. This is the best it can be.” But that is not the kingdom that we are turning toward. Is it really possible that “the earth is the Lord’s” includes your work tasks? Peter’s example reminds us to go where God calls us—primarily to learn just how small we are, and also the wonderful gift of how present God is also.

Reflect

When was the last time you realized you were small? Not humiliated, or less than what you are worth, or making yourself feel small—but small in relation to the vast universe?

Reread the scripture. What does Jesus do for people who realize who they are in relation to God? (Hint: read verse 10b). How does Christ’s kingdom deal with our inadequacy?

Act

Do you remember when you were small before God? Do you remember your response to it? Reach back to the moment(s) where you realize that God was present and active and what that moment or moments compelled you to do. Decide to make those decisions and apply them to your present context.

Prayer

What is humankind that you think about us? Our strength, stature, and time is short and yet you have clearly shown us that our capacity is just short of the angels. Forgive me for thinking higher of myself than I am. And forgive me for thinking lower of myself also. And forgive me for agreeing with anyone else who thinks in either direction about me or others also. Your Son’s presence shows us that while he has every reason to think of himself higher, he did not consider equality with you as plunder. And we need your Son if we ever intend to see as well. In the bludgeoned, crucified, resurrected, reigning one’s name we pray; Jesus the Christ,  Amen.

Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Best of Daily Reflections: The Earth Is the LORD’s


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