“He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore…he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’
Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’
When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’
Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.’So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.”
Luke 5:2-8, 10-11
God loves to use the ocean to speak to me. It’s kind of cool; out of all of the analogies He could use, out of all the earthly elements He could put in front of me to describe life, He knows that the smell of salt water, the sound of the waves, and the feeling of the cool breeze are things that capture my attention. So, He uses my love for it to illustrate my walk of faith.
After years of running from Him and living selfishly for me, He called me back the night I returned from my first trip from Haiti in 2015 through the song ‘Oceans’. It came on over my speaker as I cried over my journal, trying to make sense of the change going on inside of my heart; I cried out to Him, asking Him to forgive me and help me out of this mess that I was in. The words in the bridge, ‘Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me,’ resonated with my soul that night, and they became the words that defined my new walk of faith.
In ‘my song’, as it has come to be known as in my family and friend circle, ‘No Longer Slaves’, the part that always speaks to me no matter how many times I put it on repeat is, ‘You split the sea so I could walk right through it, my fears are drowned in perfect love.’ Those words are my testimony; He truly has led me to where my trust is without borders, and split the sea so I could walk through it to where He wanted me to be.
It only seems fitting, then, that He would use yet another ocean illustration to show me what comes next in my life. A few weeks ago, as I was praying about my decision for the fall of 2017 and whether or not I would return to Haiti, a few things happened in quick succession, things that I knew had been orchestrated by God for my benefit.
One night almost two weeks ago, after doing a food & clothing distribution in the local villages, the current visiting team, myself, and a few others all returned to the house. There was a big commotion outside our gates, by the water. We all piled out to the shore to see what was going on; there were local fishermen with a boat load full of fish, so full that they were sinking. The fish were in such abundance that they were giving out portions to the locals who were on shore. I have never witnessed such joy in my entire life; those that we knew from the village were walking away with hands, bags, and buckets full of fish. One child was doing flips in the water, his fish in hand. The men finally pulled their boat on shore, and let people take even more fish from the floor of the boat.The overwhelming joy of the people that I have come to know and love filled my soul, and brought tears to my eyes. I couldn’t help but hear Jesus as if he were on the shore with us all, laughing along with everyone else.
Over the next couple of days Luke 5 (top) made an appearance a few times in different variations of Bible readings, sermons, and devotionals. I’m getting to know God well enough and how He speaks to me, and this was starting to look like His work. Sure enough, several days later, I felt that ‘Holy Spirit nudge’ that I’ve come to love, gently urging me to get up from the upstairs porch, and walk down to the water. It was dinner time, and the food was on the table. I felt the tear between my human desire for delicious food and my spiritual desire to find out what God was up to. Then I realized how silly of a choice that was, and literally ran down the stairs, through the yard, and out the gate to the water. There, again, were the fishermen, reeling in their full nets of fish. And then, simply, I heard a voice inside my heart that was not mine. I’ve heard it a couple of times of the past couple of years, and the more I hear it, the more easily I can assign it to it’s Owner. This time, He was saying five words in a gentle yet firm whisper, “Put out into deeper water,”. Over and over again, that phrase echoed through my heart, and as the tears fell down my face, I knew God was giving me the answer I had asked Him for.
Fittingly, in the song ‘Oceans’, the first part of the bridge is ‘Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me,’. The second part of that bridge goes, ‘Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.’
It’s time to go out into deeper water.
Where that ‘deeper water’ is, I don’t know. I do know, though, that I am being called to not return to Haiti long term once my time here in June ends. God is faithful; He loves us too much to answer our prayers at any other time than the right time, so I trust that He will show me where the ‘deeper water’ is at the right time.
The second part of that particular scripture I provided has Simon Peter reminding Jesus that he is a sinful man; that he is not worthy of the life that Jesus has to offer him. Jesus then gently tells Simon Peter to not be afraid; He knows that Simon Peter is sinful, yet He plans on using him in His grand plan more than Simon could ever have known at that moment. He plans on having him and the other disciples “fish for people”, bringing them the good news that Jesus has to offer the broken world.
Like Simon Peter, I know that I am sinful. Boy, do I know it. But, Jesus has been patient with me these past several months, helping me extricate myself from the guilt and shame that comes from my sin, and showing me His unending love for me. The love, hope, peace, and light that Jesus has brought into my life are things that I can’t keep to myself; I have to share them, I WANT to share them. No matter where I end up in my life, I will always be “fishing for people”, doing my best to bring them that same love, hope, peace, and light that Jesus offered me, and that continues to change my life.
So, in June, I will be ending my time in Haiti; I will not, however, be ending my partnership with Mission of Hope International. They are an organization that I have come to love, and I plan on working with and supporting them in any capacity that I can. We are currently in the works of how we can put that plan into action, while I am in the States doing whatever else God has planned for me there, so stay tuned for more information on that. Upon my return to the States, God has me as camp director at the Koinonia Day & YAS Camp in West Newbury, Massachusetts through the end of August. From there on is my ‘deeper water’ where Jesus is asking me to push further out into. I hope that you will continue to join me in prayer about where God wants this boat to go next.
I am so thankful for all of you in your support of me and my mission these past several months. I am looking forward to these last three months here, as I know that they will be a beautiful end to, what I can confidently say, has been the most life-changing chapter of my life thus far.