And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch. -- Luke 5:4
Friday, November 22, 2013
Into the Deep
I watched a first half-hour or so of the Tom Hank’s movie Cast Away, again, the other night. The island on which the character, Chuck Noland, finds himself stranded is surrounded by a reef, over which the surf surges powerfully. His first attempt to escape and reach a ship passing in the distance is thwarted by the surf. Despite his best efforts to overcome the waves' power, he is thrown back. No matter how hard or frantically he paddled, he could not climb the mountain of water that stood in his way. After years on the island, having adapted to his situation and developed a new set of skills, he finds a section of a Port-a-Potty washed up. With this, he constructs a sail on a raft. Aided by the wind, Noland is finally able to escape the shallow lagoon and reach deep water.
As I have noted before, the exposition of those first verses of Luke 5 was a life-changing experience for me. The fishermen of Galilee cast their nets at night and scooped up the fish feeding in the shallows near the shore. There was no point in throwing their nets into deep water – to which the fish retreated as the sun warmed the waters of the lake. No catch in those conditions would be worth the effort. Jesus changes the equation.
The conscious, natural mind of man is like shallow water. A lot gets caught or trapped there. Some of it is useful and beneficial, but it ends up being a very limited and isolated existence. If we cannot venture out into deep water, into that part of ourselves that is open to and connected with the infinite, we can’t have much hope. Our existence will be routine, perhaps even drudgery and imprisonment. No amount of education or intellectual effort is going to paddle us over the breaker and set us free. But we can, through Christ, make use of the wind of the Spirit. He can enable us to go beyond the barriers that have confined us.
Now, of course, deep water or an open ocean can be a pretty scary place. When there is nothing on the horizon, how do we know where to go? Some of the well-intentioned souls who risked leaving their island find themselves adrift and lost. In all that shifting, chaotic water, we need God's word as a compass and His truth as rudder to steer us straight. Again, we look to Jesus who is always the Way, the Truth, and our Guiding Light.
We are in Him, but just the same, Jesus said, He abides in us – as within so without. The Father is accessible to us at every moment, in every situation. Do not be afraid of the deep.