It was such a somber morning that even the sun could not enliven it with its cheery rays. Billowing dark, grey clouds finally smothered the golden orb of sunshine into a smudge of watery pale light. Oblivious to the temperament of the heavens, seagulls cawed and squawked against one another, fighting for scraps of breakfast.
However, dawn’s gloomy mood could not match the despondent air that hung around Jonah and sons fishing company. Derelict trawlers with paint flaking off their hull hunkered along their dock like prehistoric mechanical monsters. Rust and neglect were etched all along the sprawling expanse of the buildings.
Simon Reed and his brother Andy Jonah, eyes red and gritty after an all night fishing expedition washed their nets free of water hyacinth and other detritus. Instead of fish, the nets were heavy with all sorts of flotsam and jetsam. Their all night exercise had yielded nothing. In frustration, Simon walked back to his office, heart heavily anchored with worries.
The family business was failing! As the eldest son of the family, he automatically became the Chief Operating Officer of the business after getting his Masters in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences while their Father remained at the helm as the CEO/Chairman. The price of fuel to power trawlers and cold rooms had gone up tremendously. The shekel had fallen relative to the dollar thereby affecting the company’s purchasing power to order parts from Japan and the US. Pollution and water hyacinth plants had dealt a wicked blow to trawling. The price of his company’s shares had plummeted heavily in the TAS. Simon felt that he might eventually give in to the hostile takeover being engineered by Pisces LTD, a bigger and greedy rival. He could not believe all the efforts over the years were going to amount to nothing. His father had grown old so the responsibility fell on his shoulders to captain the firm through choppy waters. Without giving voice to his inner thoughts, washing the empty tents this morning was the final straw. The motions of that exercise had made hopelessness embrace him. He saw it as the greatest sign of futility and defeat. He made up his mind to sell to Pisces before he ran the company aground.
He walked into a glass office where the sea could be seen restlessly tossing and turning mirroring the angst in his soul. The room was full of bookshelves spilling over with nautical maps and books. One could see their spines bearing titles like fishing through the ages and so on. A glass box showcased a smorgasbord of harpoons, baits and all kinds of hooks. Framed pictures of marlin, swordfish, tilapias and other kinds of exotic fish lined the walls. The desk had model galleons, compasses and telescopes. It was quite evident that that Simon Reed was a salty seadog.
As he sat heavily in his swivel leather chair, termites of worry burrowed deeper into his fragile frame of mind. Tuition fees for his children, mortgage bills and other issues ravaged his thoughts.
Suddenly, a text rang his phone into wakefulness. He read the message and sighed. It was a cry for help from a reputable Christian missionary organization soliciting for donations. They were asking for pledges that would be used as financial ships to reach some less privileged children, “catch them young,” the SMS said. He nearly threw his phone against the wall but somehow held himself back. He could not believe that such text was coming at a time like this. Something would not let him ignore the text though and before he could change his mind; he hurriedly made an online transaction and emptied one of his accounts. He kept wondering whether he had lost his senses.
After he paid in the money, a combination of famishment and fatigue made him dose off. While slumbering, he heard a voice that said, “Try again!”
He woke up with a start wondering what was going on. The voice persisted in his head and told him, Launch out into deep waters and cast your nets again.
Simon finally accepted that it was the Lord was speaking to him but the senselessness of the whole thing nearly made him laugh. He was an expert! A fisherman so good he was known as the Kingfisher! He knew the right time, season and best climes to fish and he had done that all through last night. Beyond his natural ability (he had been angling for pikes since he was a tyke), he had used sonar and radar to no avail. The sea had beaten him into total submission. Natural skills, education and technology had failed him and now God was saying go back to the place where you failed.
Simon could not believe he was being asked to try again, brave the elements once more. He was exhausted and voracious, his bones were cooking in a broth of weariness yet The Lord was saying “try again! Go back to the deep waters! Give it another shot!”
Simon whispered a prayer; we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at your word, we will try again.
He made phone calls to his crew; some were already on their way home while some were about to make for the road. Of course they thought he had gone mad.
“We just came back empty handed,” some shouted in incredulity. However, they recognised the edge of finality in his voice, the tone that brooked no argument.
As they weighed anchor and cast off, Simon reflected on The Lord’s words. As a fishing guru, he knew fish could only be accessed in deep waters but he felt God was telling him more than that. He shrugged in a let’s see how it goes way and set his face to the wind until he got to the fishing position where he had just miserably floundered and failed.
Deep within the oceanic depths, myriad forms of fishes suddenly perked their ears as a divine voice spoke “Fishnese” (the language of fish) to them. They were told to move towards the longitudinal and latitudinal position of Simon’s trawler. A supernatural aquatic SATNAV system was activated within them. An extraordinary unseen hand raked the depths and swept them forward with mind-boggling speed. Every fish suddenly had a mission and that was to find Simon’s net.
Within minutes of the net being lowered, they were filled to bursting level with all kinds of fish. The type of catch he made in months was made in minutes. The net was so heavy the speed of the trawler started to drag. Simon opened his mouth for several minutes at the stupendous ship sinking, net breaking harvest of fish. Faith had made a fool of what made sense! He realized he had short-changed himself. The word had been for him to let down nets but a smidgen of unbelief had made him go with only one trawler to conserve fuel and man power (He paid some of his staff by the hour). He had only let down one net and the result had been prodigious. What if he had let down nets? Other trawlers and their crews came to help out with the bountiful miracle. Some of the trawlers would go on to become his partners in the coming months since Jonah and sons could not handle the reversal in their fortunes alone. The prosperity was so massive for the family business to remain the way it used to be. He now understood The Lord’s words.
By launching into the deep he had left the shallow waters of the familiar. He sailed away from the comfort zone of his senses to take a plunge into fathomless depths of faith where possibilities are endless. He got the Revelation that God had made him confront his failure. He now knew that The Adonai was majestic and powerful enough to have made fish come to meet him even in shallow waters but the message was that to look defeat in the eyes and trounce it comprehensively needs depths. That would stay with him for the rest of his life. Letting down his nets hours after being let down abysmally was God telling him that he should not allow yesterday’s disappointments to kill today’s dream. It was a sign of expectation and hope.
On the deck that morning, Simon saw a future where he was going to leave all the operational work behind though his shares would remain intact and join the Christian missionary organisation. After what he had seen, he knew that Jonah and sons was the smallest thing in Heaven’s agenda for him. He would devote his whole life to fishing for bigger catch, men!
On their way back to the shore, he wondered why a God of perfection would bother with an imperfect gnat like him. Right there on the deck swarming with fish with the noise of exultation and wonder echoing in crazy decibels following the wondrous event the crew had experienced, Simon knelt…bowed……in worship……
This is a contemporary version of the story in Luke 5.
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©2015 Ekpo Ezechinyere