#FEARLESS365 is a yearlong study of God’s commandment to us to live without fear. For 365 days, we will focus on one scripture and volunteers from all over the world will share their personal thoughts and what God has shared with them on the specific verse. For more info… go here.
and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.”
I can empathize with Simon Peter. When Jesus spoke the words, “Don’t be afraid”, he knew that the Holy Spirit was at work in Simon’s heart.
Exhausted after a long night of commercial fishing with nothing to show for his efforts, Simon agreed to let Jesus use his boat as a platform to address the gathered crowd on the shore. Simon continued to wash his nets while listening to the master teacher at work. When Jesus finished, he told Simon to go out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch. The experienced fisherman surely knew it would be fruitless to expect to catch fish in the heat of the day. But, something inside compelled him to follow the teacher’s suggestion.
I can imagine Simon’s shock as the image of his formerly empty nets contrasts with the nets that were now so full that he had to call to his partners to help bring in the catch. His mind was still processing all the teachings he heard earlier and now his eyes see a catch of fish that can only be described as miraculous! At an instant, he is awestruck with the realization that this in no ordinary teacher. He is also shaken by a fresh realization of his own sinfulness. This physically, emotionally, and now spiritually stretched fisherman is overwhelmed and falls at Jesus’ knees and said “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”.
When we understand Simon’s sense of utter unworthiness before Jesus, we can begin to sense how amazing the grace must have felt when Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” Not only was Jesus accepting Simon Peter but he was giving him a new purpose in life. This must have been the moment that Peter began to learn to “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6)
For Simon Peter, fish was his life. For me, Rock and Roll was my life—and my god. When I was 8 years old, I remember wanting to sing or play the drums. When I was 12, I learned that I would never make a dime doing either one. Listening to the radio disc jockeys, I said, “I can do that!”. So, I set my sights on radio. I was imitating DJ’s by 13 and by 17 was on the air. I also worked as a disc-jockey in night clubs and private parties and served as emcee for many 1950’s acts such as Bobby Rydell, the Drifters, and the Coasters.
Over time, my career grew, but so did a sense of despair. I was making other people happy, but I was empty inside. Through the invitation of a Christian friend, I started attending a Bible-teaching church. I marveled at how the people looked happy to be there. I also heard them talk about Jesus in a way that I had never heard before. I remember being puzzled, thinking there are so many different religions and churches, how can I know which one is right? I was taught from the cradle that the Bible was the Word of God and that Jesus was the Son of God. So, I bought a Bible to see what Jesus had to say.
I was struck by Jesus’ perfection in all he did. I was most amazed at how he related with people, especially those who were trying to harm him. In the light of his standard, I realized for the first time that I fell far short. I was getting a handle by now of heaven and hell and the frightening realization that I was heading in the wrong direction. Only then could I really understand the fact that Jesus not only died for the sins of the world, but that he also died for my sins! I accepted, by faith, the fact that his blood was shed in my place to set me free.
I didn’t know it at the time, Jesus took me from entertaining people for an evening to being able to impact them for eternity. I was blessed to work at a few Christian radio stations and then move into pastoral ministry. As Jesus did for Simon Peter, he replaced my sense of fear and unworthiness with grace and a new purpose.
Kevin T. Cunningham is a Pastor, Author, and Freelancer (Design and Video). He blogs at www.EncourageAndEquip.com. His book, Time with God: Develop Confidence & Consistency In Your Personal Prayer Life, is available at Amazon. He lives in Greater Boston Area, USA. He met his wife, Alesa, in training to serve as missionaries to Milan, Italy. They thought they were signing up for a two-year commitment. In May 2017, they will celebrate their thirtieth anniversary.