Thursday, October 24, 2013

Packed Up

And here's the thing - those old fishing nets, that collection box, when you pack away the things of your former life thinking one day you might have to go back to them, you never get away from them. Put them in the corner of your closet, and you forget about them. For awhile.

But one of these days, you're going to move. Lord willing, you are not today where you will always be. Even if you've found your calling, found your niche, may God continue to move in you and so, yes, you will face this moment. You will come to the day when you're moving and you will pull those old fishing nets out of the closet and you'll wonder.

What am I supposed to do with this?

You'll hold those nets in your hands and remember all the times you cast them over the side of the boat. You'll remember the catches, big and small. You'll remember the life you used to live. And for a few minutes, you'll think.... You remember what it was like to be there, and this far removed, it's pleasantly nostalgic. The days without a catch seem fewer and further between in your memory; the big hauls take center stage. You even remember the day you laid the nets aside, the biggest catch of your life just seconds before the same voice that led you to the fish called you to the fellowship. There are a lot of good memories tied up in those nets.

So you take them with you. Not necessarily because you think you might go back to that one day, not with the same sense of keeping yourself ready for the old life should you want to return, not so much for keeping yourself from having to make a new investment if you ever wanted to fish again...but simply because you remember those days fondly. Because it seems like such a big thing, who you were.

And then one day, you move again. Lord willing, you still are not where you will always be. He is always moving in you, and here you go. Once again, you pull those old fishing nets out of the closet and you wonder.

What am I supposed to do with this?

Incredibly, it's more powerfully nostalgic now. You remember the conversation you had with yourself the last time you saw these, the last time you dragged them out and took them with you and tucked them away in a new place. You remember how this is the thing that has tied you not just to one place, but now to two places, and you wonder if it will also tie you to a third. You're not ready to let go, not because you're going fishing any time soon but because this seems like such a big part of you. Even bigger now. And what would it be like to let go? So you take them with you.

And then one day, you move again... Do you see the pattern? Every time you make a move, you have to decide whether to take your old self with you. And every time you pull out those old things, the memory of them is deeper still because these old things have been so many places with you. Then you get to the end of your life and a new generation comes to sit on your knee and asks about the box in the closet. So you answer, "Once upon a time, I was a fisherman."

Wow, cool! You were a fisherman! Why did you ever stop?

Suddenly, you realize you never did. You've always been a fisherman. Even when you've been a follower, even when you've been in fellowship, even when you've been in mission field, you've been a fisherman because you haven't been able to let go of it.

It's not so easy to see in the old nets, but what about the snares in your own soul? What if it wasn't fishing gear you were keeping in the closet, but fearfulness? What if it wasn't a boat, but your broken heart? What if it wasn't the hints of just an old job, but the evidence of an old life? What if you just can't let go of who you once were?

You'll never fully know who you could be.

Because the thing you've got that's tied to the most things, the memory you've stored that's been the most places with you, is not the greatest thing; it's just the thing you could never get rid of and the more you took it with you, the deeper its roots grew until it became the thing that tied you to all other things. And hasn't that tainted all other things? Necessarily. Because it is not what God called you to be.

Isn't it weird that so far removed from familiar waters, high atop the mount of transfiguration, in the hustle and bustle of Jerusalem, on the road to're still carrying your net? What good is it here?

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