On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, Jesus was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 7 They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. – Luke 5:1-11 [ESV]
Author Frederick Buechner defines vocation as “the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.” That’s the reason for the asterisk in the title: I wanted to give him credit for the phrase. Certainly for a follower of Jesus this is true. Our deep gladness is grounded in Jesus’ love and grace, his powerful combination of grace and truth which both anchors our souls and gives flight to our hearts.
What a combination that is! A soul anchor and a joyful heart. The anchor holds us fast against the waves, winds, and uncertainties of life in this fallen world. But we need also to fly. We need to see that which will one day be. We need to look over the horizon – not to discern the future, but to get a glimpse of that which we hope for. Isn’t it interesting that hope is an anchor for the soul according to Hebrews 6:19?
My personal motivation for serving is two-fold. It is grounded in the grace of God and a strong sense of God’s faithfulness, love, and ultimate importance. Without that, I would never have thought of serving as a pastor of a Christian congregation for 40 plus years. God is the ultimate authority, the most important consideration of life, the highest good. And he is also full of grace, love and faithfulness. He is a worthy master and Lord.
He is also my Redeemer. And I’d have to say he redeemed my life from the pit. Prior to giving in to his call to pursue pastoral ministry, my life was truly aimless. I had the idea that being a decent and faithful real estate broker was a good calling. And it would have been. But it did not capture my attention and provide the focus and energy necessary for a life-long vocation. But when I saw the path to serving as a pastor my world opened up. I had purpose. I had something to give. I had a calling that captured me in much the same way Jesus captured Peter. I didn’t have nets to leave, but I did have new paths to walk. New study habits. New focus for education.
We know that Peter and the others didn’t get it right all the time. Neither would I. But just as Jesus never gave up on Peter, neither has he given up on me. For that I’m thankful. So today I want to celebrate two major things.
- I have something to live for. I have a godly purpose. I have a high calling. And so do all who have been called into faith of Jesus. We have the high calling to follow Jesus and to invite others to join us in that trek. It provides incredible meaning and purpose in life. There is great reward in taking Jesus’ word seriously: “Whoever gains life will lose it. But whoever loses life for my sake and the gospel will gain it.” A life lived in devotion and service to Jesus is rich in so many ways.
- All this is by the grace of God. God’s grace calls us to faith. God’s grace sustains us in faith. God’s grace receives us when we fall and turn back to him in repentance. God’s grace motivates us to continue in service to Christ in his kingdom. And in the end there will be a grand celebration of God’s grace that will never end.
These two things are the world’s greatest need. Would that our joy would be found there: where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.