It’s one thing for the rabbi to use Simon’s boat for a preaching platform, but now he’s giving a seasoned fisherman advice about how to catch fish. Simon could mutter, “Stay in your lane, Jesus.” Instead he does what Jesus suggests. Perhaps he thinks that this carpenter-turned-teacher will stop playing consultant when the net, now thrown on the “wrong” side of the boat, doesn’t fill. Or perhaps, somewhere beneath the ego of his expertise, Simon knows how stuck he is and how deeply he needs help.
When the nets grow so full that the boat begins to sink, Simon finds himself pushed way past the limits of what he believes is possible. Facing this new reality, he can no longer rely on his own understanding or his own abilities. He can only surrender to the wonder of this experience unfolding before him.
Maybe this is often when discipleship begins—not necessarily when a miracle happens, but within that moment when we realize that we are sinking. This is when we experience joy, pain, or possibility too great for our hearts and minds to hold, in a moment when we can no longer see ourselves as an expert, but only as a beginner.
Writing about the spiritual life, Thomas Merton says, “We do not want to be beginners but let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything but beginners, all our life!” Simon experiences both an ending and a beginning that day. We are all beginners on the way of Jesus.
How might you surrender to the wonder that Christ is unfolding before you today?
God, as the heavens are higher than the earth, your ways are higher than my ways and your thoughts are higher than my thoughts (a response to Isaiah 55:9). Give me the humility to begin again. Amen.