This Changes Everything
by Donna VanLiere
A few years ago, my husband Troy and I went to Maui for our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. One day, we took a walk along the ocean and came upon a bay where a few people were sunbathing on the beach and fewer still were snorkeling in the water. A man and his wife walked out of the water and told us it was the best snorkeling in the entire state. At only five dollars an hour how could we resist? We paid for our two-hour slot, got our flippers and masks on and as soon as we stuck our faces in the water, we knew the man was right! There were countless colorful fish, a couple of eels, a reef shark, and it was impossible to swim after all the sea turtles that were keeping us company.
Our two hours were nearly up so we started swimming back toward the beach. I was about to stand up out of the water when I saw the most enormous turtle I had ever seen. It was magnificent! It was so big we could have set plates on top of its shell and had lunch. Not five feet behind me were three little girls who were playing in the water with their dad, and right next to me was a man and woman who were just standing there in thigh-deep water, looking out over the bay. Nearby, another couple was getting snorkeling gear on, and I talked with them, telling them about the massive turtle that was literally right here below the surface. I stuck my head back in the water and Troy and I watched as the turtle’s ginormous flippers barely moved through the water as it hovered over a rock, munching on algae. By this time, our two hours were complete, and we got out of the water. The little girls were still playing, the husband and wife were still standing there looking out over the bay, and the other couple were still getting on their masks.
We turned in our snorkeling gear and as we walked away, I watched as the couple with the snorkeling gear were walking to another part of the bay. I said, “Where are they going? They’re missing the turtle.”
“Maybe they don’t want to see the turtle,” Troy said.
“But I told them how beautiful it was,” I said. “I told them exactly where it was and how enormous and amazing it was.” I stopped and watched as the couple finally got into the water and headed off in an entirely different direction. “What in the world are they doing? They’re missing the turtle!”
“Would you give it up?” Troy said. “Maybe they don’t want to see the turtle.”
“WHO wouldn’t want to see that turtle?” I asked, exasperated.
As we walked away, I realized that all of those people were so close, just within a couple of feet of beauty, wonder and magnificence…and they all missed it. If any one of them would have just stuck their head in the water, they would have been face-to-face with this awesome creature. That’s the story for a lot of people today. So many are within feet of the wonder, the beauty, and the greatness of God, but like the little girls who were playing within feet of the turtle, they are too caught up in their own little world to notice. Others, like the couple standing in thigh-deep water and looking out over the bay, are so close to the very presence of God but they stand by complacently, not inquisitive enough to go deeper into the water. (A.W. Tozer said, “Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth.”) And then there are those, like the couple about to go snorkeling, who are within reach of God, but even after being told of His amazing beauty, enormity, majesty, power, and awesomeness, choose to go away from Him in a different direction altogether.
There is one other set representing people today and that is those who are in the water, face-to-face with the Almighty. As deep calls to deep, God is calling each one of us into a deeper relationship with Him to experience His wonder and love. It is there, in those deep waters with Him, where everything changes.
In Luke 5:4, Jesus is in a boat with Peter and He says, “Launch out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Peter basically scoffs at this and says, “We’ve worked hard all night and caught nothing.” Sound familiar? So often we work hard at relationships or the situation or circumstances we find ourselves in but have nothing to show for it. Maybe the frustrating relationship or issue you have battled day after day has exhausted you, and you see no sign of improvement or resolution. But like Peter, the failure and frustration you are experiencing is the perfect setting for breakthrough. Peter was tired and discouraged but he had no idea that his moment of breakthrough was just about to happen—a stunning miracle that would change his life and his faith forever.
Because Jesus has asked, Peter lets down the nets. And verse 6 says, “When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.” How did Peter react? Verse 8 says, “He fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’”
The enormity and greatness and magnificent love of God is right there in front of you in the deeper water, and everything—your circumstance, situation, relationship—changes in those deep waters with Him. You will be in awe of Who He is; and like Peter, you won’t think of Jesus as a buddy, but as Savior. As Lord. His presence will overwhelm you in those deep waters and humbly bring you to your knees, and you will be aware of who you are and Who He is, crying, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful woman!” Obeying God’s voice, “Launch out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch,” is the first step to change. Obedience changes our relationship with Him and then with one another. There is no other relationship on earth that is as powerful or life changing. Just when we’re about to throw in the towel, Jesus says, “Launch out into deep water one more time.”
In the deep water your desire will increase for a deeper relationship with God. While there, your prayer life will grow; you’ll want to be faithful in prayer because this is God’s will for you (I Thessalonians 5:16-18). And you will want to read His Word so you can know His heart and His voice (John 10:27-30). You may be ready to give up, but can you feel Jesus nudging you to launch out into deep water and to let down your nets one more time? We live in a shallow culture, a “kingdom of noise,” as CS Lewis calls it. There are fewer and fewer whose souls follow hard after the Lord (Psalm 63:8), fewer and fewer who are launching out into deep water. So many are afraid to get out of shallow water; something keeps them near the shore. But the greatest change to our relationships happens in those deep waters with Jesus. Are you ready? Can you launch out into deep water one more time for the sake of your relationship with God, your spouse, your child, your parent, or your co-worker?
Just like Peter, it may sound crazy to try what has already failed so many times before, but there is blessing in obedience. Peter caught so many fish that his net broke! One simple act of obeying God’s voice may knock your socks off and bring you to your knees in awe. I’m praying that will happen in your life and mine as well. Let’s launch out together!
Donna VanLiere is the New York Times bestselling author of The Christmas Shoes, The Christmas Secret, and The Good Dream, among others, with six titles made into television movies. She’s the host of the limited podcast series, Things Are Looking Up, about exciting things our generation is seeing that previous generations didn’t. She travels as a speaker/teacher and her recent book is The Time of Jacob’s Trouble, available in all formats.
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