Sunday, April 15, 2012

Fishers of Men

Luke 5:4-5 "And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." And Simon answered, "Master, we have toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets."

It's been a long morning. One of those frightful days that I have dreaded experiencing as a Mom. Remember the "single" days and seeing those screaming children with their forlorn parents at the store? Remember thinking to yourself, "that won't be me, my kids will never act like that?" Remember the days before giving birth to your first child and the COUNTLESS websites, books, and friendly advice considered over how to be the best parent? The goal - the perfect family environment, children sleeping through the night, obedient, in love with their veggies and always choosing a book over a TV show. Yes, yes! That was my vision when watching those unruly children given to poor parenting. "Just got to try a little harder, read a little more "literature", get some control over your kids for goodness sakes!" And then, reality...

My 2 year old has been sick for a week with a nasty cold, which she lovingly passed on to me! Then yesterday, she decided to try balancing on a basketball and fell (of course) injuring her foot. The screams startled me and my 8 week old who I was finally, and I mean FINALLY, soothing to sleep. Both of my babies crying, well screaming, and for the 5th day in a row of this "unsuccessful parenting" I felt ready to cry myself and resolve myself to failure. We have watched more TV than I ever would admit to anyone, meals are more like grazing throughout the day and do I dare say, eaten on the couch! The upstairs bathroom has not been touched in weeks, and I could go on and on about the laundry! Yes, I finally am ready to call it quits, "pull in my nets" and be done!

The Holy Spirit though, has other plans for me. Today, I read about Peter and the "fishers of men" story in Luke. Peter had been out all night trying to get a catch, and was unsuccessful. I'm sure he tried everything. "Cast out on the right, let's try the left, now. Hmmm... well let's wait a little while and try again... maybe we should go earlier or later... I don't understand, I did everything "right" and I have nothing, no fish, no success, that's it! I give up! Pull in the nets, let's go home." Then after a long, trying night, Jesus tells Peter to go out again and cast his nets. I kind of understand how Peter felt when he said, "Master we toiled all night and took nothing!" I'm sure he was thinking, "I tried everything, did everything I could, and NOTHING!!" I'm sure he was feeling a bit defensive, like Jesus was questioning his ability! Peter's pride spoke for him when he said, ..."but at your word I will let down the nets." We all know the rest of the story, Peter catches so many fish that his nets begin to break, and in humility he falls before Jesus asking him to "get away from him as he is sinful man".

So, what does this have to do with me, a mother? Well, I suppose Peter wanted to be the very best fisherman. I'm sure he researched in every way, the best spots, techniques, approaches to fishing, and yet, he was struggling. Hmmm... that sounds a lot like me! I wonder if Peter would google as much about fishing as I do about mothering if he had access to the internet back then. I have often wanted to name myself a "perfect" mother and when things are out of my control and have a day to look back on with no "fish", I definitely feel like saying, "God I've tried everything, read everything, what do you mean, go and soothe that baby back to sleep AGAIN!" Peter wanted control and to see his success. I want the same!

When Jesus replied to Peter's humility, he said, "Do not be afraid, from now on you will be catching men.", I think he wanted to show Peter that success comes from the power of God, not from trying hard, and that his identity is not being a "fisherman" but glorifying God through doing His will. God gives us our abilities and to take pride in them is foolishness. Same with mothering. The goal is not to be the perfect mother, but to guide the hearts of my children to Christ! I am "fishing" for their salvation and to instill in them Love for the Lord and His will. While it is good to research parenting styles, and to "mother" well, it is God who works in me giving me His power to guide them. So, when I am read to call it a day, when I am out of control, when I feel like I am failing, I must remember those words, "Do not be afraid... you are catching the hearts of your children."