I’ve always enjoyed fishing. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of fishing with my Dad, my Grandpa Chambers, and my Uncle Don Lewis.
You can learn a lot of important life-lessons with a fishing pole or net in your hand.
I was reminded of that while studying for a sermon on Peter.
When Jesus meets Peter, He (Peter) was already an accomplished fisherman. He’d been fishing for many years and those years had not been a waste of time. To the contrary, those years of fishing for fish had prepared Peter for years of fishing for souls. All of those years of nets, storms, casting, mending, and gutting fish served to prepare Peter for the next thing God had planned for him to do.
While fishing . . .
1) Peter was learning the importance of hard work.
Fishing in the 1st century was extremely hard work. Peter was not fishing for fun; he was fishing for finances and food, so he worked hard at it, all the while–and unknowingly–developing a work ethic that would serve to carry both him and the Gospel from the shores of the Sea of Galilee around the world.
2) Peter was learning the importance of patience.
Herb Shriner said, “All you need to be a fisherman is patience and a worm.” While fishing, one will sometimes sit all day without as much as a nibble on the line, but a true fisherman keeps coming back–pole in hand–because he knows “no nibbles” doesn’t mean “no fish”–it just means “not today.”
During those long days and nights when Peter wasn’t catching any fish, he was learning to wait upon the Lord to fill the nets at just the right time.
3) Peter was learning the importance of having a strategy.
An article from NetBible on fishing in the 1st Century details the strategy required to catch fish with a cast net: “A circular net, with small meshes and leaded around the edge, is cast from the shore into the shallow water in such a manner that the leaded edge forms the base of a cone, the apex being formed by the fisherman holding the center of the net in his hand. The cone thus formed encloses such fish as cannot escape the quick throw of the fisher.”
Catching fish with a net or a pole requires strategy. One must use the right equipment, the right bait, pick the right location, and all at the right time.
While fishing, Peter was learning the importance of thinking and working strategically to “catch” men and women with the Gospel.
4) Peter was learning the importance of working with a team.
Studies of fishing in the 1st Century reveal that it took from five to ten men to work a fishing net on the Sea of Galilee. Team work was essential for successful net fishing from a boat.
It’s obvious from how Peter depended on the Church for prayer and support that the lessons he learned on the water about the importance of teamwork kept him afloat in his ministry to and with the Church.
You see, Peter wasn’t wasting time when he was fishing for all those years before the call; he was preparing to do what God was going to call him to do.
Whatever you’re doing now, do it with the awareness that God can use whatever you’re experiencing now to do–more effectively–whatever He calls you to do.
No, you’re not wasting time; you’re preparing to catch some fish.