Tumbling in the Sand
“Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing…” – John 21:3
I can see why the disciples might have gone fishing. Given all the drama, the sorrow, the intense emotions, and then the craziness of the resurrection—which certainly still didn’t make much sense (and perhaps still doesn’t make a whole lot of sense … at least not in the logic of everyday life)—I can see that the disciples would return to something they knew.
Sometimes it is good to check out. It is good to spend the night in the comfort of rocking waves, in the company of friends and those closest … or even alone. Sometimes we need that space to mourn, to process, to make sense of things.
I can imagine the disciples sharing stories of the last few years with Jesus. I can imagine them laughing at funny stories and trying together to make sense of what had just happened. I can imagine them looking up at the stars and remembering the promises of their ancestors. I can imagine them thinking about the days when everything made sense and their world was tending nets and catching fish. I don’t imagine they did much fishing, honestly.
Indeed, we need this—we need times where we can go to somewhere comfortable. We need times when we can recall the past—the good stories, the moments when things all made sense, the times when our worlds seemed manageable. We need times to reflect and to make sense of things. We even need times to focus on ourselves and our hopes and dreams and lives.
But the problem comes when that is where we stay—when we decide to check out for good. When we decide that things are just too bad or too overwhelming or too broken to bother. When we don’t look for the resurrected Christ calling to us from the shore (when we don’t look for the resurrection happening in our very midst). When we don’t heed God’s call to follow, to engage, to be alive.
Then we catch nothing. Then our lives turn up a little empty. Then Jesus asks us simply, sadly, “Children, you have no fish, have you?”
You see, even though the call to follow Jesus is not easy (just ask Peter or Paul or Ananias), it fills our nets full. But, we must trust enough to engage—to jump out of the boat, to be baptized, to be fed by Christ at the table—by the sea—, and to be sent, wrapped in love, to serve.