God works in mysterious ways …
A poet coined this phrase some 200 years ago about the Lord moving in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform. The term stuck – because it is true.
This reading from St Luke’s gospel opens the door to the mystery of faith by showing that we don’t always need to understand precisely what is going on.
Jesus saw some fishermen putting away their nets; they had not caught much, so they were downhearted.
However, he thought one of their boats, Simon’s, would make an excellent platform to preach from.
So he stepped onto the boat and asked to be pushed out into the water to teach the people.
He led from his floating pulpit for a while, and then, perhaps as a thank you for being allowed to use their boat, Jesus said to the fishermen, ‘Go out into the deep water and let down your nets for a good catch’.
It’s easy to imagine how the fishermen might have felt about this.
They were masters in their work; they were probably tired and hungry and just wanted to go home, and here is some random teacher telling them how to get a good catch of fish.
The fishermen knew all there was to know about fishing; in particular, there were none around the time.
But here is the thing about this story, sometimes we can know too much. Today, we are bombarded with information, then counter-information.
In a world of, he said, she said, it is often difficult to know the absolute truth. It has no doubt always been so.
Of course, we need to keep informed and make educated decisions concerning the matters in our lives, but sometimes we need to stop and listen for the word of God to come into our hearts and minds.
Simon very politely started to tell Jesus, thank you, but we actually know what we are doing. We have been earning our livelihoods for years with this work, and there are no fish around.
But then, perhaps something began to stir in Simon’s heart because this was not his first encounter with Jesus.
He had already listened to Him preaching at the temple and had asked him to visit his home to see his sick mother-in-law, who Jesus healed.
Perhaps something in his heart spoke to him, against all his worldly knowledge and fishing logic, because then, Simon agreed to start fishing again. As, after all, it was Jesus who had suggested this.
This is what we need to do when against all odds, something seems completely illogical; pause and listen for the small quiet voice of God. Because God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform; sometimes, we need to listen to what our hearts tell us rather than our heads.
We all know what happened next; when Simon stepped out in faith, they got the biggest haul of their lives, and the boats began to sink with the load.
Simon then immediately became a disciple of Jesus and eventually St Peter, the rock upon which Jesus built his church.
Never forget our God is omnipotent. He has unlimited powers; he created heaven and earth; you and I can speak directly into our hearts, as he did into Simon’s if we pause and listen for Him.
It is easy to think that my dream is too big, my problem too great to be solved, or I’ll never be fit again.
God’s love and care know no boundaries when we keep believing in Jesus, in ourselves, in our uniqueness, and keep hoping for good things and God’s plans because, in His power, all things are possible.
God moves in mysterious ways,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
William Cowper (1731–1800)