Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Insane Pilots, Heros, and Grace

The pilot rushes out of the cockpit screaming. Intercom crackles, "Restrain him!" You rip your seatbelt off and lunge. With the help of a few others, he's pinned to the floor until the plane lands. 

Grace. Can’t it be obvious sometimes? And other times, doesn’t it seem missing in action?
What of times when airplanes don’t land safely, or when mad men shoot through little kids, or when thousands die every day simply because they don’t have enough to eat? Where is grace then? 

Why is it, when grace is given, we feel we don’t deserve it? 

And why do we feel we’re owed something in its absence? 

How do we appreciate grace when it becomes the humdrum of everyday life? And how do we continue to see it when pain rips it from view? 

Not everyday will you tackle insane pilots, feel the pulse of heroism pump through veins, but everyday you can conquer insane thoughts - thoughts that kill grace, destroy it. Fear-producing, pride-inducing, sin-seducing thoughts that not only trap you, but others around you. The only way to overpower these nutty notions is to give thanks for the grace around you, regardless of how insignificant it may seem. 
Simple, you say? Well, grace might be harder to recognize than you think. These insane membranes have been on the rampage a long time.
You choose to remain in your seat and let them wreak havoc or lunge at them and pull them down - pull them down with gratitude. The choice is yours. Will you be a hero today? 

*a piece written for a writing course I'm attending in Austin, Tx. The subject line was given to me and I had to make it fit with my thought: grace. Many of the questions I ask - honestly, I don't have answers. "Sometimes the only way to understand is to fall on your knees and say you don't." That's where I am. Perhaps only by going lower, deeper can answers truly be found. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

9-Year Old's Eye Salve

I kneel among stacks of ornaments cutting ribbon for the tree. It has been a long day...a long week (and it’s only Tuesday). My friend kneels beside, helping me. His little body coursing with Advent adrenaline. We’re transforming the evergreen. 

“This is the first year we’ve ever designed our tree!” he exclaims. I smile. 

The doctor walks in from a late day at the office. He reads of exhaustion, lines of weariness and illness mark his face. 

“Daddy, what do you think of the tree?” bubbles the boy. 

“It’s nice,” comes the worn response. 

“What do you mean it’s nice, Daddy? Isn’t it beautiful?” 

I sit there, back turned to the doctor, staring at my scissors. There’s a long pause.

“Yes, it’s beautiful.” 

The tone of his response melts me inside. This man - busy, stressed, overburdened, sick, doctor, as well as president of a college - he sees it. He enters into the moment. It’s as if the world pauses and all that matters is the tree, the beauty of it. 

But it’s my little friend who captures my attention. His curly head bounces with glee, his eyes sparkle with wonder, glitter sprinkled across his nose and cheeks glistens with the reflections from the lights. He’s reflecting the beauty because he sees it, he revels in it. 

And I ask myself: 
When was last time I saw through the eyes of a child? 
When did I stop being a child? 
Why is it that small things of beauty no longer impress? Why does it take the precipice of the Grand Canyon, or the snow-topped Alps, or the translucent waters of Lake Tahoe to make me gape in awe? 
What if I could be stripped of my “adult” lenses and look at the world through the eyes of my friend? 
How would that change how I view life and how I view God? 
Could I reflect beauty because I see it, I’m willing to enter in? 

Hmm - and so I’ve pondered these thoughts all week. 

“Daddy, isn’t it beautiful?” 
Perhaps it’s time we pause the world, enter into the beauty of small things, and become small things of beauty.   

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Messy Rooms and Gratitude


Time to review, revisit, relive. 

Letters, journals, books, keepsake boxes, pictures…somehow daily grind had erased those moments from my memory.

The room holds the appearance of Oklahoma tornado aftermath, but it's a place of healing - of remembering - of discovering that each phase, each step, each blowing wind of change has given more than it could ever take. That the gifts God gives only grow sweeter with time, with new chapters, with every turn of page. 
And yet I admit, it is easy to forget how blessed I am, how many beautiful people have played a part in forming the life of today. I find them here - in this mess of room. Voices from the past, voices I haven't heard in months, years…voices whose sound I can't even remember, but as I uncover and open memories, they still speak. I trace words with finger and tho the sound I can no longer define, I find the lessons just as true. And I smile. 

Yes, there is something about this taking from shelves and placing in boxes that teaches the heart a new element of gratitude. FaithTrips come in all shapes and sizes. This one comes with packing boxes…and I'm thankful.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Garden of Gifts

Muscles strain and strengthen under wheelbarrow loads of compost. 

Palms blister and heal gripping shovel, rake, and cultivator.

Back bends sore over hundreds of lettuce plantlings.  

Hands crack dry embracing the dead-life-giving soil. 

Smiles grow in this land...this land of the living. 

It isn’t paradise, but it’s the closest thing this side of the Jordan. 

It’s the place where the dead give life, where storm is greeted as warmly as sun, where man links hand with the Creator. 

It’s a farm...a garden. The place God created at the beginning of time and then cursed for our blessing. It’s where hearts of stony self-service break into the rocks of life-giving, life-pouring, life-living gifts. Where child learns with parent and grandparent to give thanks in everything, to care for everything. To weep and laugh, to mourn and live life to its fullest. 

Oh, and others might scorn the simplicity, the humility, the sacred duty of those who kneel and pour their lives back into the ground they came from. They might deride the sweat, the tears shed over plants lost, the blending of hearts with the Creator - because they’re too busy to realize the glory in it.  

I’m guilty of that attitude...but something, Someone, is changing that. 

It has to do with gifts...counting them. Not gifts desired, but gifts given.

Gifts for those who wish to see - who take the time to see. Gifts for those who give everything.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Morning After...

It’s dark. The sun is a late riser these mornings. Seems it can’t get enough rest. I empathize. 

A train rumbles the earth in the distance howling its horn among the hills. 

Wind plays harmonies through my window screen breathing the music morning yawns. 

It’s October 23, 2012... 

And we’re still here. 


Time hasn’t stopped ticking, but have we stopped caring?

Is this day just another mark on the calendar? Another day of classes, work, busyness – or is it a reminder that should break our hearts, bend our knees? 

168 years. 

What are we doing? 

Have we’ve dwelt among the palaces of Egypt so long that we’ve “mistaken God’s purpose” (Edu 62)?

Is it possible that we need to unlearn,

“Now, as never before, we need to understand the true science of education. If we fail to understand this we shall never have a place in the kingdom of God.” (U.T., July 8, 1897)

Can we afford not to? 

Skies turn gray blue. The sun rubs its eyes awake. Heavy, dark clouds race on – morning rush hour on the prairies of Oklahoma. 

Do you see the need? 

Birds sing.

Sky metamorphosis to pinks and orange. 
It’s light. 

It’s time to see.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"That's One Small Step For Man..."

"First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth."

Sound familiar? If you're a history or space guru I would imagine you have those words memorized. 
That's right. 
John F. Kennedy.  

The day was May 25, 1961. Our country was charged with the task of beating the Soviets in the space race of putting a man on the moon. The command from the president was unambiguous and yet absolutely ridiculous at the same time. 

It would take billions of dollars, thousands of people, and technology that hadn't been invented yet. 
9 years. 
That's all the time they had been given. 

Seemingly impossible. 

July 21, 1969. 
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin make history.

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." -Neil Armstrong

America won! 

*all the space buffs cheer again (even though they could recite the story in their sleep)*

There's something thrilling about space work. It somehow manages to fascinate people world-over. 

But you know…there's another command yet to be fulfilled. 
The Commander of Chiefs has spoken…unambiguously. 

"Success in any line demands a definite aim. He who would achieve true success in life must keep steadily in view the aim worthy of his endeavor. Such an aim is set before the youth of today. The heaven-appointed purpose of giving the gospel to the world in this generation is the noblest that can appeal to any human being." Education 262

Notice the deadline is set. "…in this generation" 

Seemingly impossible. 

So why aren't we busting at the seams with enthusiasm over this command like our space friends are over conquering the moon?

It's not history. 
It's because our parents have read this quote, and their parents have read this quote, and their parents have read this quote…

And now we read it and say, "Uh huh…blah blah blah. It sounds so good, but really? C'mon, give us something more within our scope of capability." 

Ok, put a man on the moon. 

"Poor parallel. That's already been done. Scientists have proved it." 

Yes, but think how they must have felt before they proved it. 
JFK had no clue how to put a man on the moon any more than a fish can understand what it's like to be a bird. 

Realize though that our Commander and Chief knows how to accomplish His command. 

It has to do with one word: Education.

(p.s. we'll we get around to eucharisteo…that's coming a little later)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Africa and Time Filters


It's something that plagues me. So often I find myself completely engaged in the here and now that I forget the past. 

But there is something about remembering…something powerful. 

I realize the importance when I take time to sit down and think. 

Time has a way of putting a filter on the past. Somehow it helps to soften the rough, hard edges in my mind. 

You've noticed it too, haven't you? 
Maybe it's with a family vacation, a year at school, the family reunion, a wedding, etc? 
Yes - there are times when the bad is so bad that it predominately remains fixed in memory, but for most cases we tend to see the positive, right? 

Here's why I say this. As an aspiring film maker, I spend days…months pouring my life into a production. Sometimes I work with less-than inspiring content - other times, I couldn't ask for a better story. But wonders of wonders…when I look back at a project later down the road, it tends to become more beautiful in my mind, regardless of the sweat and tears put into it. 

One project in particular is the Zimbabwe PAC video I worked with while at Weimar Institute. I clearly recall sitting on the plane on the way back from Africa completely baffled at how I was to create a compelling story from the experience we had just gone through. 
For months afterwards, I struggled with the storyline and how to make it appeal to viewers without sacrificing the truth.
The ultimate result was something of beauty and emotion - a far cry from the actual mission trip experience. 

Or was it? 

What the video doesn't show is what our accommodations were really like. It doesn't show the dirty houses, the lack of water (much less running water). The fact that we were malnourished and frequently hungry. The trial of always being late to everything (think hour or more). That one of our team members was super sick for the first few days. That four of the crew had their luggage stolen. How funds disappeared into thin air. The confusion in  leadership. Shady characters…It shows none of that. And yet, those were real hurdles we faced. Flying back from Africa, those were the only things I could think of because they seemingly overwhelmed the trip. 

But when I got back and looked through the eye of what my camera captured, I began seeing a different Africa than what we had encountered. An Africa with beautiful people, the blessing of how our Weimar team bonded so strongly, the power of music evangelism and medical work, the timeless faces of orphans…something lovely. 

Through post-production, I began seeing the beauty in the ugly and God was able to use that new perspective to ultimately bring together the Zimbabwe video.

What a lesson learned. 
But here is where I pose the question: do we have to wait until we look back before we see the beauty in the ugly? 

I think not. 
It takes transformation though. 
A paradigm shift. 

Something called….eucharisteo. 

Hmmm…maybe that discussion shall be left for the next post.

Until then, check out the Zimbabwe video, if you haven't seen it and think about finding beauty in the ugly. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tune My Heart

Oh, the times I wonder if seeking is a solo. 

But no…in His own time, God always adds the harmony. 
And I'm always amazed how.

The listening ear of a friend.
A heart beating to the same drum. 
Someone else who hears the music…

A rally cry. 


Allow God to tune your heart to His, and He can use you to add harmony to someone else's song today. 

Photos taken at Weimar Institute

Monday, September 10, 2012

You Shoulda Catched Me!

A Sabbath afternoon hike. 

I stand upon a granite slab taking in the barrenly beautiful terrain waiting for the rest of the company to make their way back up the trail. 

My little five-year old friend tests his balancing skills walking on the uneven rock. His father offers his hand, but like most five-year olds (I'm sure I did this when I was five), he doesn't take it. 

"I can do it by myself" 

You know how that goes, right?

It's not more than a few steps before…down he goes. The fall isn't terribly hard, but he sure isn't standing on two feet anymore. 

There is that pause that frequently occurs in moments like this when a youngster is debating whether or not his predicament is worth making a fuss over. 

Apparently, it is. 
But his response surprises me. 

"Daddy! You shoulda catched me!" he wails. 

Wait? What? Is he really saying that? 
As I watch this whole scenario taking place, the words ring in my ears. Why do they sound so familiar? Ridiculous, but familiar. 

"Daddy! You shoulda catched me!" 

How many times have I said something similar to my heavenly Father? 

I'm sure His response parallels this response I witness.

"Reuben, I couldn't catch you. You were walking in front of me…but if you hold my hand, it won't happen." 

Aubrey, I couldn't catch you. You were walking ahead of Me…but if you hold My hand…

Again a typical reaction. 

Reuben isn't happy with his daddy and doesn't want to hold his hand. 

"No! You shoulda catched me."

Now, I can't trust you anymore 


And so Daddy complies. 
After all, forcing a child to hold your hand never works very well. 

But it's not too long before the youngster realizes that holding Daddy's hand is a much better option. Within minutes all distrust has vanished. I look behind me to see Reuben happily bouncing along hand-in-hand with his daddy. 
As we reach a more treacherous part of the trail, he even submits to being picked up and carried over. 

It strikes me…

"Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3

Hmm….something to think about, eh? 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

On Wings of Cheer

This post is dedicated to my brother, who inspired me with agriculture, and to my roommate, who stood beside me my last month in California and prayed me through. You both are such a blessing. Thanks.

I promised myself that I would keep my writing short, but sometimes God is too good and I have to go long. I actually had the privilege of sharing this story with the Youth For Jesus team this summer, as well as the leaders for the Southwestern Union. Both times I've come to a different appeal, but the principles still ring true. 
The title of the post is a play off a nature book I read as a child, but it's also the phrase I repeat to myself when I fly reminding me that my newly acquired love for air travel truly is a cheerful occasion, regardless whether I'm coming or going. How true it is…
"What? You're crazy!"

I had to smile. It wasn't the first time I'd heard that. 

"You mean, you're giving up all of this to go to Oklahoma and garden?" 

The incredulity in his voice echoed the feelings I had been fighting inside. I glanced out the window as the plane banked east over the stunning waters of Lake Tahoe and the grandeur of the Sierras.

Deep breath in and out. 

"Yes, I am." 

Really God? Is this really happening again? 

I was exhausted. The entire month had been absolutely chaotic as I ran about courageously (perhaps somewhat foolishly) attempting to work multiple projects at once, but honestly the busyness hadn't been as hard as the mental struggle I had been going through. 

There was no break. Friends, teachers, pastors…and even I couldn't grasp the fact that God didn't want me to come back to school the following semester. The potential was endless. I was heavily involved in media and music…how could I consider leaving? You have too many talents to waste them in a garden, Aubrey. 
Nights I spent begging God to change His mind. 

No change. 

The change had to happen in my heart first, but I wasn't ready. 
Questions still rushed about in my head. 

By the time I had reached the airport that morning, I was worn out in body, mind, and spirit. My roommate bid me farewell and I drooped through security. 

"Hey, put a smile on your face," a TSA man grinned at me. 

"Are you ok? Smile," another chimed in. 

Since when have TSA people been so nice and friendly? I really don't want to smile. Can't a body be gloomy on occasion? 

Slumping into my seat, I leaned my head against the seat back in front of me, not even bothering to watch the plane load or see who sat next to me. 

It was a very low point. 

God, I really need to know why I'm doing this. Please, somehow confirm that I am making the choice You want. I need affirmation. I can't do this without it.  

It wasn't until the plane began to taxi that I looked around at who I would be traveling with. Next to me was a older, African American gentleman, and a middle age Caucasian guy on the aisle. My neighbor was reading the paper: ObamaCare. Not having the slightest knowledge of politics, I struck up a conversation about them (generally not the greatest idea), but thankfully, he seemed learned and I listened. 
The conversation moved from politics to his family, work, etc. Then he turned the questions on me. 

"Are you from California?"

"No, I've only been out here a year working at a small college." 

I shared some of what I'd done over the year. 

"So where are you going now?" 

"I'm moving back to Oklahoma to work in my brother's garden." 

"What? Why? 

"Because God is asking me to."

"Do you really believe God is calling you back to Oklahoma? You're crazy!?"

God, this isn't helping. 

"Ok, so what is your ultimate goal? What are you wanting to do with the rest of your life?" 

Mercy! Such general questions. How can I make this as simple as possible?

"Actually, I'm a fan of education. I want to use agriculture, music, media, ministry, and medicine to teach young people."

"What sort of religion are you?" 

"I'm a Christian." 

"What denomination?"

"Seventh-day Adventist." 

This is where conversations can get really long (speaking from personal previous plane conversations) Mom made it clear that I need to try to recuperate on this flight to prepare for a busy weekend. I can't talk the entire trip. 

"Oh, ok." 

It was that sort of response that begged the question…

"Do you know what a Seventh-day Adventist is?"

"Oh, sure. I have friends that are Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah Witnesses, etc." 

Just as I had expected. 

Lord, I can't get involved in this. I'm too tired. I can't even think straight. Please, no." 

The next question came out anyways. 

"Do you like history?" 

"I love history." 

"Well, back in the middle 1800's there was a man by the name of William Miller…" 

I related the story to him until I reached Daniel 8:14 (which really wasn't very far). Pulling my Bible out of my backpack, I laid it on the table in front of him.  

"…'until 2,300 days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed'…Do you know what the sanctuary is?" 

"Of course." 

"Great. Let's review then." 

And we were off. 

The next few hours, we discussed a plethora of Bible teachings: sanctuary, salvation, great controversy, Sabbath, state of the dead, second coming, heaven, hell, the millennium…
As the conversation got deeper, I began praying hard. Thankfully, neither one of us ever became defensive, but kept open terms about us. I kept praying that God would help me remember where to find Scriptures as he fired questions at me. My energy began to return. 
About half way into this, I realized that instead of just two people talking about beliefs, this was an all out war of principalities and powers. Sometimes the look in his eye would give me shivers up and down my spine. 

Lord, we're up here flying 36,000ft and I need someone to pray with me. There's no way I can let anybody down there know what's going on right now, but I need prayer desperately. 

All while this is happening, the guy in the aisle seat remained completely expressionless. 

What is he thinking? I can't read him at all. Is he offended by this? 

We kept going. Most of the time, when he'd ask me a question, I'd reply with a Scripture and then turn the question back on him. I felt sorry for him because, even though he had a lot of knowledge, he was really quite confused and kept making himself more confused. 

A voice came over the intercom.

"We will be landing in the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport within the next few minutes…" 

Wait a minute, Lord. Is all of this talking, this searching of the Scriptures, this sharing the gospel not going to lead to anything? 

Honestly, this really was the sort of talk that needed to culminate in a "What must I do to be saved?" sort of reply, but instead... 

"Aubrey, it's been a pleasure talking with you. I've really enjoyed our conversation, but promise me two things."

Wonder what he's after. 

"Promise me you'll never stop asking questions and promise me you'll never believe everything written in this Book," he tapped my open Bible. 

{We'd also talked about the reliability of the Bible. That's when I learned he didn't believe the whole Book, claiming it to be flawed} 

Another deep breath. 

"Mr. Clarence, I will assure you that I will never stop asking questions. God has given us minds to ask questions and I intend to use it, but about the last part of the promise…Mr. Clarence, I guess it's time I quote Martin Luther. 
Martin Luther was called before an assembly of the church and commanded to recant his beliefs. I can't remember his response exactly, but this is the idea: 'Here I stand. I can do no other.'
Mr. Clarence, my response to you is the same. Here I stand. I can do no other. There is no point to life if I cannot trust this Book fully. It is folly if I dare reject one word. I cannot promise."

He looked at me, but didn't say anything. It was obvious the conversation was over. I leaned back in my seat and looked out the window again. The plane was descending over the flat, barren, Texas topography. 

Why God? Why did it have to end this way? Did I fail somewhere? What went wrong? 

Now, looking back on it, I can only imagine what God's reaction to my question was. 

*Aubrey…just wait. It's not over yet.*

The fellow on the aisle finally reacted. 

"Excuse me, I hate to be nosey, but I really feel like I need to share something." 

Nosey? Haha. He's been sitting next to us the whole time...

"Sir, this young lady has been sharing with you the gospel the entire flight. It's because she has a fervent love for Christ and she loves you. Everything she said is the truth…"

Within a few sentences, he summarized the plan of salvation over again. 
Then he turned to me. 

"Aubrey, my Bible is in my duffle and after watching you navigate your way around yours so easily, I'm convicted that I need to spend more time getting to know mine better and strengthening my relationship with Christ. 
You know, I've been praying for you this entire trip that God would give you the words to say and I must say, I've never heard the gospel shared with such clarity and boldness. I don't have that and I want it in my life. It was no accident that I sat here on this flight. I needed to hear this." 

What? He was the answer to my prayers? God used him? Whoa…"

Turning back to Mr. Clarence…"Sir, you weren't here on accident either. God is calling to my heart and to yours. Don't turn Him down." 

"Aubrey, don't ever stop ministering. God has given you a gift." 

Part of me wanted to burst into tears in awe and part of me wanted to break out singing at the top of my lungs. I could not believe what I was hearing. 

"I won't." 

It wasn't much longer before the wheels touched down on Texas soil. The plane began to unload. 
David, as I learned his name, dragged his military duffle out from under the seat and stood up. Looking back at me over his shoulder, he whispered, "Thank you," and was gone. 

I sat there trying to process everything that took place over the last few hours. 
God had answered my prayers in more ways then I could've imagined. 

First - He reminded me of my identity as I shared with others truths from the Bible. 
Second - He reminded me that He had called me to ministry. 
Third - He reminded me that He is in control and wants me only to trust Him more. 
Fourth - He will use people we never dreamed He could to pray for us in our weakest moments.
And fifth - it is by sharing Him with others that brings life to the soul and body. Not only was my mind clear, but I had more energy than I'd had in weeks. Had I rested? Yes, I rested in the Him. That's where true rest comes from. 

I got off the plane in complete marvel of the God we serve. 
Friends, He is ever faithful. 

Won't you join me and learn to trust Him even more? 

There are people out there who need to see examples of what He can do in their lives. They need to be inspired to recommit themselves to Him, because the world destroys that desire. We can show them if we let Him lead and guide us regardless of whether it's something we want or not. He will use us in our weakest moments to bring glory to His name. 
Let's prove Him right, eh? 

And just so you know, I have found joy in the garden. It's been one of the best ways of healing my heart, mind, and body, and is creating strong bonds with the Lord and my family. 
If you ever get the chance to be involved with agriculture, jump on it. In fact, go out of your way if you have to:) 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Fish and Obedience

"…He [Christ] sought to undo the work that had been wrought by false education, and to give to His hearers a right conception of His kingdom and of His own character." -DA 299

This mission is played out in every single aspect of Christ life here on earth. It was His constant aim. 

One particular account is recorded in Luke 5…

It had been a long night on the lake. They had nothing to show for their efforts. 
They were mentally tired too. 
For some time now they had been watching this provocative young rabbi in His work. He healed people and preached about the kingdom of God. Some thought He could be the Messiah, but what a strange way of preparing to throw out the Romans. After all, wasn't that what the Messiah was suppose to do: cleanse the nation of this thorn in their side?  
Instead, this Man was teaching about poorness of spirit, meekness, mercy, and a boatload of other things contrary to what the Messiah should be doing. 

*What business does He have to muddle in our personal lives? Can't He just concentrate on raising an army and getting the show on the road? We're ready to fight. Why isn't He?* 

As the boats near shore, they see Him on the beach. A crowd of people surround Him. 

*See! He already has a following large enough to start something and yet He continues to counsel them about spiritual things. It just doesn't make sense. What kind of Messiah is this? Not the one we've been taught of.* 

The fisherman secure the boats and automatically start cleaning their nets, like they've done for years. 
They can't help notice the crowd continues to grow. 

Jesus looks their way. 

Simon, can you do me a favor? I need some space. Can we put your boat out from the shore and let me teach from there? 

Simon shrugs his shoulders. Why not? 

The sun continues to rise.
The setting was perfect really. Had Kodak been around then, doubtless someone would have used it to describe the moment. 
The fisherman listen as they finish their job and store the nets. They can't help be drawn by the words this Man speaks. Something about them soothes the tumult of thoughts that had been raging in their minds. 

Silence. Jesus is done teaching…or is He? 

"Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a catch."  vs. 4

Simon looks around wondering if Jesus is talking to someone else. No, He's looking straight at Him. 

*What? He wants me to fish now? Doesn't He know this isn't the time of day to fish? Doesn't He know you don't go into deep water? What can He be thinking? Just because I let Him use my boat to preach doesn't mean He can use it however He likes. 
Plus, the guy is a carpenter. He works with wood, not fish. This isn't He field of expertise. It's mine. 
Why is He embarrassing Himself in front of all these people? This is a fishing community after all. Everyone knows this isn't how you do things. What would they think if they see me following a carpenter's instructions? 
On top of everything, we already have the nets stored away and it would take all afternoon to get them clean for tonight…
Maybe I should help Him understand.* 

"Master, we have toiled all night (*ahem* that's when you're suppose to fish) and caught nothing…" vs. 5

But then he stops. As he looks into the eyes of Jesus, the words spill from his mouth. 

"…nevertheless, at Your word I will let down the net." vs. 5

Wait. Did he really just say that? 

*Boy howdy. Here I go putting my foot in my mouth again. What did I just get myself into?*

Not wanting to meet the eyes of his counterparts, he hollers, "Andrew, c'mon. Give me a hand." 

Can't you imagine Andrew's face? 

As the boat sails into deep water, Simon doesn't need to look back to the shore. He can feel the eyes of the crowd on him. And yet Jesus doesn't seem to mind. He smiles and laughs as the boat rocks with the wind blowing across the lake. 

*How can He be so at ease? Everything about this is wrong.*

Jesus interrupts Simon's thoughts. 

Ok, Simon. I think here is a good spot.

Simon looks around. 

*Great. I knew He didn't know what He was doing. Of all places…really?* 

Here guys, I'll give you a hand with the nets. 

The next moments are like slow motion for Simon and Andrew. Without thinking, they move automatically to cast their nets, their actions honed by years of experience. 

*splash* The nets slapped the face of the water. 

Instantly, the fisherman's muscles strain against weight of fish filling the nets. 
Simon's voice bellows across the lake. 

James! John! Come help!

They struggle as they work together. Jesus is right beside them, helping them haul the nets aboard. James and John arrive. Whoops and hollers spill from these fisherman. They've never seen anything like this in their life. Their boats are actually sinking because of the plenitude. 

Once the commotion settles, Simon looks around. He sees Jesus in the boat, dripping from head to toe, seaweed stuck in His hair, a huge grin spread across His face. But for the first time, Simon sees beyond the garb of a carpenter-turned-fisherman. The recognition brings him to his knees. 

"Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" vs. 8

Words uttered from the mouth of a man who knows he's in the very presence of God. The conviction is almost too much to bear. His heart is breaking. The knowledge of his condition humbles him. 

Jesus kneels down beside him. 

"Don't be afraid. From now on you will catch men." vs. 10
Jump forward several years. 

It's Pentecost. The city is full of pilgrims. 
The Holy Spirit has been poured out on the disciples. 
Peter stands up and begins to speak...

"...This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses…" Acts 2:32

He is testifying of the Messiah. 
3,000 are added to the church. 
As he watches people repenting and being baptized, it's as if he's back on the lake with Jesus. 
He can almost feel the breeze blowing through his hair, the rock of the boat against the waves, the smell of the fish surrounding him, the burning in his heart as he kneels at the feet of his Lord. 
He can hear the words spoken ever so gently, 

"Don't be afraid. From now on you will catch men." 

It had been the wrong time, the wrong place. Everything Peter had been educated about fishing was challenged. The only reason he had to act on was Jesus word. He commanded it. 
Only by His word was the catch a success.  

Obedience to every word of God is another condition of success. Victories are not gained by ceremonies or display, but by simple obedience to the highest General, the Lord God of heaven. He who trusts in this Leader will never know defeat. Defeat comes in depending on human methods, human inventions, and placing the divine secondary. Obedience was the lesson that the Captain of the Lord's host sought to teach the vast armies of Israel – obedience in things in which they could see no success. When there is obedience to the voice of our Leader, Christ will conduct His battles in ways that will surprise the greatest powers of earth. -6T p. 140

Sometimes I wonder if the reason we don't see "catches" like this in our own life is because when Jesus asks us to do something radical, we don't get beyond the excuse. 

"You see, Master, we've been doing this a long time. Trust us. We know what we're doing. This is our area. Ask us to pick up a sword and fight for You, we'll do it in an instant, but don't try to mess with our personal lives, our daily lives, the area we feel comfortable with. That's our domain - not Yours." 

Maybe we have yet to learn what it means to trust, to obey. 

Do we really understand what it means to have Jesus undo the work in our heart wrought by false education? 
Do we have that right conception of His kingdom and of His own character? 

Perhaps it's time to take our boats out deep and let down the nets...