The quiet of the morning washed over the scene. A light blue sky above, a deep blue lake below and there stood a man on the lake shore.
He gathered a net into his strong arms and walked into the cool water. This was his favorite time of the day. Far out on the lake a few fishing boats dotted the surface. Like a whisper he could hear snippets of conversation. He could imagine the idle chatter or the rough commands drifting from boat to boat as they searched out the best spots.
He smiled inwardly, thinking of a different boat, a different day completely unlike this one. That stormy day he walked on water, however brief it was. His smile turned down as a tear slid slowly from his eye. Fear sank him that day.
With a practiced motion he flung the net into the shallow water. He enjoyed the pull on his back and shoulders. The net settled and slowly he gathered it in. The tension in his arms and chest made him feel alive. Another thought flooded his mind. Once again it was about Him. He shrugged it off, shaking his head to clear it of unwanted thoughts. He gathered the net for another throw.
Throw after throw, it soothed his mind and worked his body. But it did little for his troubled soul. He was anguished, perplexed, confused but most of all he was ashamed. The repetitive motion gave his body work and his mind space to think.
The sun was beginning to warm his back and hunger gnawed his stomach but he was not yet ready to turn and face the world. This place, this peace, the comfort of the net and cool of the water was what he needed most. It had been too long since life was simple and he knew deep down inside that those days were gone. They fled away when he first relinquished his net to follow Him.
I will make you fishers of men.
The methodical movement of tossing and drawing back was meditative. He had no intention of catching fish. He just needed to clear his mind. His thoughts wandered over the drama, the power, the humor of the last so many months. Had it been that long, it seemed so much longer.
A shadow of a man, and the quiet splashing of someone walking in the shallows behind him brought him back to reality. It could only be one person. He sighed and straightened his back pushing his shoulders back and allowing the net to droop in the water. He was not yet ready to face reality so he did not turn.
“Hey” He said.
“Hey” the man responded. His voice confirmed his identity. His brother.
They stood in silence watching the boats move about looking for their morning catch. Sunlight glistened on the water. It would be a hot one again.
“You’ve seen too much to turn away now.” The brother stated simply. “We all have.”
“I betrayed him.” He responded.
“We all did.” The brother answered sympathetically. It was not the right thing to say even if it was true. “He forgave you.”
Feed My sheep
The voice still echoed in his head as he cast the net again. He remembered the last time he had cast a net. The catch was more than he could haul in alone. “Do you remember the first day?”
“Of course I do.” The brother answered and stepped forward to help gather the net in. They cast it together in practiced rhythm. They had worked their whole lives together side by side. And they followed Him side by side, from the first day to the last.
Eventually they stopped, the moment gone. “I don’t know why. That will be what they all ask. Why?”
“Brother, thinking has never been your strong point. You are a man of action. You always have been. What did he say to you? ‘Feed my sheep?’ I think that is more than enough. He knows you. And more than that you have an intuition, a spirit of knowing. You were the first to see Him for who He truly is. Those two things are more than enough.” They sat in silence watching the boats and the sun playing on the water. “I will follow you. But we have seen too much to turn away.”
He fingered the net, thinking. Why. It was a question with no answer. Each one has to find their own answers to that question. But feed His sheep, that was something that could be done. And he knew it would be up to him to do it. He would not, could not betray him again. He would accomplish at least that much. Tell the story of His life and care for all those that he could.
“Catchers of men.” He whispered.
“What?” the brother asked.
“Remember. Catchers of Men." He picked up the net and turned back towards the shore. The world was waiting. It was not going away no matter how many times he cast his net. “Come brother we have work to do. The net we cast is for Him and we catch the hearts and souls of men.”
They walked out of the water, uncertain in mind but firm in faith. Fear would not sink him this time. When they ask why, the best answer he could give would be “because” and tell the story of His life and death.