Go Out Into Deep Water

My five-year-old daughter Ada got out of the pool after her swimming lesson last week and her first words were: “I don’t like this new pool Dad. It’s too shallow.”

It was her first lesson at a new swim centre after a year at a different pool complex, where her lessons were in an Olympic size pool with deeper water. She was now in a smaller, shallow pool and Ada wasn’t a happy camper. She could touch bottom. She couldn’t jump in and go under. She yearned for deeper water. She was no longer satisfied with a shallow water experience.

In Luke 5 we read the account of Jesus calling his first disciples, including fisherman Simon Peter, James and John as he taught by the Sea of Galilee.

The fishermen had been working all night and had caught no fish. They would have been tired and looking forward to a rest, but as they encountered Jesus he called them to go back into the water to let down their nets.

I picture that Simon Peter would have had two competing voices in his head. As a seasoned fisherman, I imagine he would have questioned why Jesus would ask them to cast their nets again when they had been unsuccessful in their fishing overnight. And yet Simon has heard of Jesus. He knows he is a special man. He knows there is something unique about this teacher. He is different to others around him. So, Simon chooses to step out in faith, despite the circumstances. He chooses trust. He chooses obedience and a result he positions himself to experience the power of God in his life.

I am struck by these words in Luke 5:4 – “Now go out into deep water.”

For Peter to experience the “more” Jesus has for him, for Peter to turn his faith into action, for Peter to share in God’s miracle, he has to leave the shallow waters and head out to the deep. He has to go out on a limb and trust Jesus, despite the fact that humanly he probably doubted there were fish to catch.

This encounter challenges me about the need for followers of Jesus to be ready and prepared to “go out into deep water”.

We can become satisfied with “shallow water” faith. It can quickly become the norm in our Christian experience and we can miss out on so much of what God has for us. We can go through the motions, we can be active in ministry and serving others, we can do lots of good things, but we can be in control and do life and faith on our terms.

I know from my own experience and from chatting to many other Christians that most people yearn for more, but the longer we play in shallow water, the harder it is to leave.

And yet Jesus continues to call us to go out deep!

When Ada plays in shallow water she can touch bottom, she is in control, there is little risk. When she encounters deep water suddenly things are different. She no longer wants the safety of shallow water. She wants the adventure of deep water.

What does it mean in your life today to embrace “deep water”? Where might God be calling you out of your comfort zone? Where might God be calling you to choose trust and obedience, despite the circumstances? Where might God want you to leave behind “shallow water” and dare embrace the deep?

Having experienced the adventure of deep water Ada doesn’t want to go back to the shallows. May it be that we follow Jesus into the deep, where we abandon our control, put aside our agendas, give Jesus our fears and experience faith like never before.

When Peter pushes out into the deep and experiences the miraculous catch Luke records he was awestruck at what Jesus had done. It was a day he would never forget.

Audacious faith is risky. It calls us often to act despite the circumstances. But the results as we trust God can leave us awestruck as well.

Scott Pilgrim