"Go to the other side of the boatand you'll catch your limit!" I wish it were that simple but its usually not. I can be in the same boat, fishing the same exact gear, using the same technique as others - With rare exception I will be the one who doesn't catch fish.
After the resurrection the fishing disciples went back to their old fishing grounds. Having fished through the night, their luck was equal to mine. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
Tired and discouraged, they were ready to pack it in when off in the distance, standing on the shore of the lake, Peter saw the faint silhouette of a person who was calling out to them - "Throw your net on the other side of the boat and you'll find some."
I have often wondered why would they have listened to someone they didn't recognize. But if you know anything about fishing and fishermen, you know that when your not catching, you'll try anything. So they did...they dropped the nets on the other side of the boat and they caught so many fish they needed help hauling them all to shore.
It was only when they got closer to shore that they realized that it was the risen Jesus who had called out to them.
It was a great, joyful moment. Peter, in typical fashion stripped down to his civvies and swam to shore to greet the Lord. Pure exuberance and unrestrained emotion. It all culminated with a fish fry and beach party.
Food is always and has always been a great way to celebrate and to draw close. No wonder the breaking of bread is sacramental. It does draw a person closer those sharing the meal as well as to the host. In another place, on a road to Emmaus, this same Jesus appeared to two disciples and only became known to them in the breaking of bread.
This story from John's Gospel is one of my favorite post-resurrection stories. I love it that Peter was overjoyed to see Jesus again. I love it that they got to enjoy a meal and the fellowship that goes with it. I love it because it involves boats and fishing. I love it most of all because at the Lord's suggestion, they decided to fish differently and for that step of blind faith, their efforts were rewarded...beyond all expectation and hopes.
That is what knowing the resurrected Christ does to a person's life. The Lord tells you to stop doing things in the same old way with the same old results that you have been using. Knowing Jesus should give us courage and faith to change; to not settle for the same old, same old.
A lot of people do not like change. Its difficult. Its not that the future is bad, its just uncertain and when a person is accustomed to doing things in certain ways, well, its just hard to recalibrate.
Obviously, as retirement nears for me, the Lord will be asking Judy and I to fish out of the other side of the boat and engage in new, different ways. Yes, I am retiring from serving Calvary. But I am a disciple of Jesus and I can't see not serving in some way - voluntary or otherwise. It is and will be a step of faith for us. Jesus Risen calls out though and asks us to do things differently. I'm up for it.
It will also be an important time for our church as this change occurs. For nearly 15 years with me as Senior Pastor, Calvary has graciously adapted to my weird ideas, big plans, and sorry jokes, you have kindly adapted, put up, responded to and shared in ministry with me. You have grown accustomed to doing things in a certain way. It would be easy - and perhaps natural - to slip back into a complacency, continuing to do things the way they've always been done. But that may not be the most effective way to do things; "to catch fish."
Now seems the perfect time for you to hear the call of Christ and go to the other side of the boat, try a different method, and do things just a little differently. That's what Jesus in risen glory calls us to.
And it's even more important in your personal life. After you've finished your Easter dinner, visited with family and friends, done your annual (or bi-annual) church thing, don't be content to go back to things the way they were. Step out in faith. Hear Christ's call. Know that in risen power and glory, the Lord is calling out to you to do things differently. If you just try it, who knows, maybe you'll be so blessed, you won't even be able to haul in the catch.