Recently scientists in Europe claimed they had discovered a sub-atomic particle that travelled faster than the speed of light. This news was met with much skepticism and resistance, since it would undermine the foundational beliefs of modern physics, contradicting the famous formula Einstein set forth a century ago: E=mc2. One scientist commented that you might as well have said you had found a flying carpet.
In the same week we were having a discussion at our house about some Christians who insist Creation took place in six 24-hour days. This idea fits an image they have fashioned, and if it is challenged by evidence that suggests otherwise, like very old fossils, they feel uneasy and threatened.
We humans have an inborn desire to understand the world we live in and to construct a system of beliefs in which everything is sensible and predictable. It is not a bad trait. Actually it is a very good one, but it does have its limitations, especially when we discover that our particular system might be a bit off.
This happened to the Apostle Peter when he first met Jesus. He and his colleagues had been fishing one morning in the Sea of Galilee. Their boats were pulled up on the beach, and they stood alongside washing their nets in the water. Then Jesus walked down to the beach, and a great crowd of people followed Him. In order to speak to the people, Jesus got into Peter’s boat and asked him if he would let out his boat a little ways from the shore. Jesus sat down in the boat, perhaps on a bench from where it could be steered, and He began to teach the people. Peter listened too. “Blessed are the poor…. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst…. Blessed are you when men persecute for My Name’s sake….”
Imagine how Peter the fisherman, a worker and a businessman, with partners and boats and property and a successful life, with a home and a family, tried to comprehend these ideas. They were outside the construct of life that he understood.
But then when Jesus was done speaking He addressed Peter directly. “Peter, I want you to launch out into the deep and let down your nets.” Now Peter may not have known much about the realm of rabbis, but he did know fishing. This was not the time of day to fish and besides that, they had already fished all night and caught nothing. Jesus was on Peter’s turf now and what He was asking didn’t make sense.
What do we do when our idea of reality is challenged by an even greater reality – say, like God?
My mother died earlier this year. All of my family and certainly my father easily imagined a reality in which my Mom, who was the picture of senior health and vibrancy, would someday be left alone after Dad, who had far more health complications, would be called to heaven. She, we assumed, might have many years of active life after this. But this imagination was smashed to bits one day last January when she had a pain in her foot, which was found to be a clot, which was then found to be caused by leukemia, which then caused her death only a week later. This was not a reality we expected.
All of us can find times in our life when what we thought should be, didn’t turn out so. Our constructs, it turns out, are frequently blown up by God. It keeps us humble, and maybe that’s the point. Maybe what matters most in life is to be humble before God, to let God be God and not insist that I myself am God.
Here we can learn from Peter. He is in the boat listening to Jesus say, “Blessed are the poor…. Blessed are the persecuted….” Then Jesus decides to enter Peter’s business and tell him how to fish. Peter’s response hinged on one word. And this word revealed the character of Peter, which Jesus was seeking, which made him eligible to become the leader of the Apostles.
Peter said, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing…” In other words, “what you are asking is not the way I know it to be…” But then Peter says one key word, “nevertheless.” He says “… nevertheless, at Your word I will let down the net.”
This is what God wants from us many times in our life. He wants humility and obedience. He wants it from Christians and He wants it from scientists too. He wants us to say, “Lord, I thought it was supposed to be this way, nevertheless, if you say this is the way, I will follow.”
You know the rest of the story? Peter and his crew caught more fish that morning than they could haul in. And that was just the beginning.
This column is the opinion of Fr. Marc Dunaway.
LOVE INC OF EAGLE RIVER TO HOLD FOURTH ANNUAL PASTORS APPRECIATION FUN NIGHT
Eagle River Missionary Baptist Church will host its fourth Annual Pastors Appreciation Fun Night on Friday, Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. This year’s theme is “Soul Train” and will include food, fun, and fellowship for the entire family. The entire community is invited.
Participants will have an opportunity to meet the participants of “His Hands AGLOW”, pastors of the local churches, and the Love INC board.
A traveling trophy will be presented to the pastor who receives the most votes. 2010-2011 winners were Pastor Bobby and Linda Jones of Eagle River Church of God. Local pastors and congregations are encouraged to participate for a chance to win the trophy and take back to their church for 2011-2012.
Eagle River Missionary Baptist Church is located at 16050 Lesmer Court, Eagle River, off the South Eagle River Exit, Behind Eagle Academy. For more information, contact Rev. Gracie Jackson, LOVE INC. Executive Director at 317-8383.