Have You Abandoned Your Boat?

Sept. 21, 2012 Priscilla Shirer

Session Transcript

What a full, rich, wonderful day we've had in the presence of the Lord, haven't we? I hope that this weekend you did not just bring your cup; I hope you brought your cup and your saucer, because He is filling us up to overflowing today, isn't He?

Let me tell you something, if there is any overflow, I don't know about you guys, I want to catch all of it. Anybody with me?

And I love tonight that He has brought us once again to be in the Word of God amongst the people of God underneath the anointing of the presence of God.

When that kind of gathering happens, I am anticipating and expecting a word from the Lord. Anybody waiting on a word from God tonight? I believe He has one for us.

I am so excited to be able to have an opportunity to serve you in God's Word, thrilled and privileged and honored to do that. I believe that this Book is alive. It is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword. When we open it, we should feel the warm breath of God brushing across our cheeks as He speaks a fresh, relevant personal word to each and every one of us. Would you look at the woman next to you and say, “Girl, sit up straight and listen. God is getting ready to talk to you."

Would you grab your Bible, please? Hold it straight up in the air as we did last night. And would you repeat after me in prayer? Lord, I am your servant, and I am listening. Speak, Lord. Speak, Lord. In Jesus' name, amen.

I was able to have so much fun this afternoon in the session that I was speaking at and serving at, talking about studying the Bible. I told the ladies that were at that session with me . . . Were you also blessed at the sessions you got to have an opportunity to be at this afternoon?

I told the ladies there that I am a mother of three boys. I have a just about ten-year-old. I have an eight-year-old, and I have a little surprise one. He is going to be four years old in a couple of weeks. His name is Jude. We named him Jude because that is as close to Revelation as I could get, because it is finished. It's finished. (laughter)

You need to know while it is my privilege to serve in ministry, it is my joy to serve in ministry, my greatest responsibility and really my greatest joy is to be a wife to my man and to be a mom to my three boys. It is my privilege to do that.

And so you need to know that in my real life, in my regular day job, I'm staying at home with my boys and spending time with them and I, like any mother of small children, am trying to do whatever I can every single day of my life to get to bedtime. That's the goal of every day of my life is to figure out how do I fill today's hours so that 7:30 will come quicker tonight than it did last night. So we do lots of things together to fill those wonderful hours that we share together.

One of the things I like to do with the boys particularly in the spring and the fall when the weather is really nice is that we like to go fishing together. We live in a fairly rural part of the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and we like it that way. Because there is lots of stuff there that boys need in their life. We live where there are some dry creek beds, and we have trees and bugs and mud and stuff like that. And so we like living out in this kind of place with our boys. Any time any of them has the nerve to come in to me and say that they're bored, I say, “Oh no you're not. Do you see that tree out there? Go play with it!”

So we try to find some creative, kind of fun ways for them to just enjoy themselves out there in the quiet country life in the Dallas area. One of the things we do is fish. We fish across the street from our house because we have a neighbor that has a pond on her property.

So we will gather up the two fishing poles that I bought from our local Walmart and the cheap tackle box that I got on sale. The tackle box has several things in it so that we can make fishing as easy as possible.

One of the things it has in it is any leftover hot dog meat from that week. That is our fishing bait. I also have some gloves in there, because you all know I don't mind going fishing, but I'm not actually going to touch no fish.

So I gather up the fishing poles, I get the tackle box, we walk across the street and make our way to the pond. And this is the kind of fishing that my boys like because within the course of forty-five minutes to an hour, we can catch ten to fifteen fish. Every time we throw the line in, within five or ten minutes, there is a fish on that line. The boys reel them in. That is the kind of fishing a three-year-old needs in his world. They enjoy fishing.

I thought after all this time we had spent together fishing, I thought they just liked fishing in general. So we were at a Christian camp one summer. They had a lake there, and I said, “Boys, let's get the fishing poles and let's go fishing.”

We walked to the lake and we fished and we fished and we fished. Fifteen minutes turned to twenty and then twenty to forty-five. Forty minutes to an hour, and there were no fish. And I soon found that I was fishing all by myself.

Have you ever found yourself doing something for your children and you find they have all left and it's just you? That's what happened. I found myself still fishing in this lake and the boys were playing football in a field that was over to the left. I called out to them, and I said, “Boys, why are you not fishing with me? I'm not doing this for my health. This is supposed to be for you.”

They called back over to me and said, “Mom, we don't like fishing like that. Fishing,” one of them said, “Fishing is not supposed to be this hard.” When he said that to me I sat for a few more minutes on the dock there fishing, and I thought, “There is another fisherman in Scripture who probably did not say those exact words out of his mouth, but thought similar things, when after fishing not for fifteen minutes or thirty minutes or forty-five minutes or an hour, but after fishing all night long, he caught nothing.

After fishing all night long, putting in all of that time and that effort and that energy into this all-night fishing expedition, he was coming up empty-handed. I wonder if that fisherman thought the same thing my boy said out of his mouth, “I don't mind fishing. I don't mind the work that I expect to come with fishing. But fishing is not supposed to be this hard. It has cost me more than I ever thought I would pay. It has kept me longer than I ever thought I would have to stay.”

And as I was thinking about all of you and us gathering here in celebration of all that God has already done in our lives and in commitment as we by the Holy Spirit's power take this True Woman Manifesto back into our regular everyday lives, it occurs to me that some of you have come this weekend and you've possibly brought a little bit of discouragement here with you because you know you have not been perfect, but since two years ago when we met before, you have been purposeful in your attempts to live in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. You have been on your own fishing expedition.

Each and every one of us is on one. You know, you're on the body of water that Christ has set you on in your marriage, in your singleness, in your high school, at your university, on your job, in your particular ministry. Every single one of us is on a fishing expedition. I just wonder if this conference this year in 2012 has left anyone a little discouraged or disappointed or frustrated.

Because just like Simon, you have been fishing and fishing and fishing—not perfectly. You know you haven't been perfect, but you sure have been purposeful. And you've been investing time, you've been investing energy, you've been investing spiritual effort. You've been investing what it is the Lord has asked you to, but you keep feeling like you are coming up empty-handed, like the benefits that you thought you would see after this past year or these past few months or these past few years, you feel like the investment that you're seeing is not worth the cost that you've been putting in.

I think that there is a word from the Lord tonight of encouragement for all of us who have been fishing but feel like it's been costing us more than we thought we were going to have to put in before seeing some fruit for our labor.

So I want to offer you encouragement tonight from a little story in Scripture that, like the one Miss Janet spoke of so eloquently this morning, is going to be familiar to you. But the Holy Spirit does indeed, just like He did for us earlier today, He has a way of making an old passage of Scripture seem brand spanking new to us. He causes the divine highlight of His Holy Spirit to cause it to leap up off the page and apply it to our lives in a present, relevant way that revolutionizes the way we live our regular everyday lives.

So if you have your Bible with you, I want you to turn to Luke 5 because in Luke 5 we find a discouraged, frustrated, disappointed fisherman who is about to meet with Jesus Christ. Luke 5:1 begins this way:

Now it came about that while the multitude were pressing in around him, [that is Jesus] and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. And he saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake, but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets (vv. 1–2).

Let's start in these first couple of verses in this story in Luke 5. Here we meet Simon exactly the way Jesus did on this particular occasion. Jesus comes to the shoreline, and He sees Simon already after his all-night fishing expedition. He has abandoned that boat which represents disappointment, discouragement, a season of frustration, a season of investing without reaping what he thought would be the benefits and the rewards that he expected when he started out the night before. He has abandoned that situation, and Jesus comes to the shoreline and He sees him.

Now, I want to make sure you get the picture of what this would have looked like. Verse 1 says the crowd was pressing in upon Him. This was not a casual, sedate, calm crowd like you are here tonight. These people were on fire to get as close as they possibly could to Jesus. They were clamoring for His attention.

These folks, even if they did not yet believe that Jesus was who He said that He was, even if they didn't know quite yet for sure that He was indeed the Messiah, what they did know was that when this guy showed up blind people could see. What they had figured out was when this guy showed up deaf ears could hear and the lame could walk and the dead were being raised.

So when Jesus showed up, a crowd was always around—not only because of the miracles He could perform, but the Scriptures say that every time He opened up His mouth, He spoke with such power and such authority that they were in complete stunned awe because they had heard teaching before from the religious leaders of the day, but they had never heard teaching like this.

This man was completely different, and so every time He spoke, they were stunned at what He said to them. Send the rain, Lord Jesus, send the rain. [Note: A huge rainstorm starts pounding the convention center roof at this point.]

I want you to just think for a moment. As you think about this crowd, how you would feel if Jesus were your Bible study leader, how you would crowd around Him, how you would want to be as close as you possibly could be.

Can you guys even still hear me back there? Let it fall in here, Lord; let it fall in here.

So Jesus has a crowd of people, and the passage says that they are pressing in around Him. They are not casual in their conversations. They are not casual as they try to get near Him. These are folks like the woman with the issue of blood. She is trying to get as close as she possibly can so that maybe, just maybe, one of them could reach out and touch the hem of her garment and be connected and in close proximity to Him—as close as they possibly could be.

And so these people were pressing in around Jesus. And with all of these people, all of their needs, all of their concerns, all of the difficulties, all of the needs that they brought with them, I love that verse 2 says to us that with all of this chaos going on all around Him, He saw one fisherman who had a bad night fishing.

This is such good news for all of us today! It's such good news for us because it means that no matter how big the crowd gets, no matter how loud the rain falls, no matter how much chaos is going on all around you, you need to know that He sees you. He cares about you. The details of your life were not lost on Him. Every single thing that matters in your life, it matters to Him. Just like He saw Peter, you need to know today, my friend, He sees you.

These 8,200 women that have stormed Indianapolis, Indiana, you need to know, you are not lost in this crowd, my friend. He knows everything that is on your heart, everything that is on your mind. Even if your spouse doesn't know what's going on, He knows what's going on. Is there a tornado coming? Is it a hurricane? Do we need to evacuate? Wow. I don't know if you who are live streaming can hear what is happening in this room, but the rain is coming down. And we're expecting that God is going to speak to us just as clearly as we can hear every single drop that's in this room. Just as clearly.

I honestly wonder, though, if this is just a demonstration for us about what is happening in somebody's real world right now. Like you feel like everywhere you turn there are just raindrops falling, that the shadows have overshadowed you constantly in your finances and in your marriage. When you finish one problem, it seems like you're on to another. Maybe you feel like you are a little bit lost in the shuffle of the crowd, like God does not notice you.

This passage in Luke 5 gives you and I encouragement tonight. Just like He saw Simon Peter, my friend, He sees you and He sees me. You are not lost in the crowd.

I am very stunned by this particular principle of this story because I'm blown away by the fact that we serve a God who is so high and so glorious and so mighty and so worthy to be praised, and who sits so high and yet in all of His glory and His grandeur and His authority and His greatness, He still chooses to come and meet each and every one of us at the point of our need. I'm completely stunned that He would take that much time and interest with me. Anybody else? That He cares about us that intimately and completely.

I was watching the news story one day on the Today Show. One of the news reporters was doing a report on the religions of the world. Every week they chose a different religion and highlighted it.

On this particular day that I caught the program, they were doing a news story on the Buddhist faith. I didn't know much about the Buddhist faith, and so I watched as Campbell Brown, the reporter on that day, did the story on the Buddhist faith.

She was standing in Hong Kong in front of the one of the Buddhist statues that was there, and she talked about all the pilgrims that travel from all over the globe, many times over the course of their life so that they can come and pray to the statue. She talked about the 268 stairs that when they traveled halfway across the world they then had to climb so that they could get up the side of this mountain and to the side of the statue that was on the top of this mountain.

She talked about the pilgrimage they made halfway around the world, the stairs they had to climb so they could pray. Sometimes they would get to a particular place in Hong Kong with one of these particular statues to find out that that particular statue was under maintenance for that particular day, so they had to go to one of the other four (I believe there are five altogether) statues to pray—after traveling halfway around the world and climbing up 268 stairs to meet with their little “g,” god.

I thought as I watched this, “Wow. If I had to travel halfway across the world and climb up 268 stairs to pray to my god, I would never pray.” And while they're doing all of that work and effort and energy to meet with their god, we serve a God that you understand that has come down to meet with us. We serve a God that meets us and sees us at the very point of our need. He cares about you.

Deuteronomy 32—somebody needs to know that it says you are the apple of His eye. Zephaniah 3 says that our God has a voice and He's literally usingit to sing over you. He cares about you. When you roll over at night and maybe you can't sleep because of all the problems that are going over and over in your mind or the tears that fall from your eyes, you need to know that not a moment of your sleeplessness is lost on Him. Not one tear that falls from your eye is lost in the carpet fibers of your bedroom. Every single one of them He has captured right smack dab in the palm of His hand. He cares about you. The little details of your heart, they are on His heart, they are in His mind.

I was driving in the car with the boys one day. It was a particularly quiet day in the car. I don't know how it happened, but I was grateful. As we drove in the car, we came to a stoplight and I looked up in the rearview mirror to see why it was so quiet. When I looked up in the rearview mirror, I guess my ears tuned in. I noticed in that quiet moment that somebody, one of the three, was crunching on something. Somebody was chewing something. I hadn't given anybody anything to eat.

At the time my smallest one was a year and a half. So I leaned in even more closely. It occurred to me after a few moments it was that small one that was crunching on something.

Now you know when this happens when you have your first child, you immediately pull over off to the side of the road and you hop out of the driver's seat and run around to the backseat. You clean out their little palate and get some hand sanitizer wipes so you can get all of the dried leaves off their palms and make sure there is none in their car seats and they're safe and protected and none of that garbage will be in their mouth.

But this is the third baby we're talking about. (laughter) So the light turned green, and I kept going. I just thought it would be good fiber for him. That's what it would be, good fiber. And even though I'm joking, and y'all know I love each of my children just the same, the novelty has worn off.

I just want you to know that God has millions upon millions upon millions of kids, and you are His favorite. I mean, you are like the very first one. Every time He sees you, His heart beats faster for you because He cares about you. He loves you with a lavish love that is just abounding and abundant. He sees and cares about you.

What He sees Simon doing in this text . . . I love when the text is so clear about what is going on in the story. Because it says in verse 2, He saw the two boats lying at the edge of the lake but the fishermen had gotten out of them, and they were washing their nets.

Simon and the other fishermen, they were now out of their boat, out of the situation, the boat that represented their disappointment and discouragement and frustration. They're out of it, and they're washing their nets. Now on the Sea of Galilee—the Lake of Gennesaret is another word for the Sea of Galilee. You and I would most know it that way. The fishermen didn't fish with a rod and line like I do with the boys at the pond across the street.

They had enormous nets that had weights strategically placed along the edges of the nets. And so several fishermen would have to gather this very large net up in their arms. It wouldn't be a one fishermen job. Several of them together would grab the net and they would cast it out onto the waterline of the sea. The weights along the side would cause it to begin to gently sink down causing it to be formed in a bell shape that would sink all the way down. And anything and everything that was in its pathway as it descended down would be captured underneath the net. Hopefully, there would be fish, but there would also be seaweed, rocks, coral—things that would cause it to become dirty, as well as torn.

When it is said they're washing their nets, it is implied they're also tending it and caring for it. The very fact that he is washing it means that Simon is done fishing for that particular day. He has thrown in the towel. He is done.

I've often heard a lot of people give Simon a hard time for getting out of that boat and washing his net, for Jesus finding this guy washing his net. “Simon, why did you throw in the towel? Why didn't you hang in there? Why didn't you get back on the boat and try one more time? Why did you stop to tend your nets?” I've heard some ministers and commentators give him a hard time.

But do you know that in this passage of Scripture there is one person that never rebukes or says anything negative to Simon because he has gotten out of the boat and he's washing his nets? And that's Jesus. Jesus sees him there washing the net. He sees that Simon is indeed done for the day, that he stopped on that particular fishing expedition. And yet Jesus does not rebuke him, doesn't say anything negative to him, doesn't scold him for what he is doing.

I think I know why. Because when you're washing your net, when you're tending it, yes it means you're done for that particular expedition, but it also means that you're preparing it because you have every intention of using it again in the future. There is nothing wrong with washing your nets as long as you intend on using them again.

Let me tell you something, if I was fishing all night long, the last thing you would catch me doing is washing my net. I might be trying to sell my net on eBay, but I would not be washing it, because when you are washing it, when you are tending it and preparing it, it means you plan on using it again.

The reason why you and I need a weekend like this one . . . I don't know if anybody's family or children or friends gave them a guilt trip because you were coming away for this weekend. Let me tell you that when you and I pull aside to tend our nets, it's well worth it, because it's not that we're escaping our reality, it's just so we can tend our nets and wash our nets and prepare ourselves to get back on to the fishing expedition God has called us to.

Remember, tending nets was not a one-person job. It was never meant to be done by one fisherman alone. There are too many of us living isolated Christian lives, and we're trying to tend our own nets all by ourselves. The Christian life was meant to be lived in community, in accountability with other sisters in Christ who believe in the Manifesto just like we do, who are walking the same path that we're walking, who are making the same choices that we're making.

You need people that are surrounding you, friends that are surrounding you who aren't just girlfriends that are good to go to Starbucks with, good to go to the mall with. You need folks who will sharpen you as iron so that both of you can be sharp in doing and being who God has called you to be.

So wash your net, my friend, just don't sell your net. Make sure you have some girlfriends around you who can help you to wash that net. He sees you. And then it says in verse 3, “Jesus got into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to push out a little way from the land.” Very, very interesting.

Verse 3 says “Jesus got into the boat.” What's most interesting to me about verse 3 is what just happened in verse 2. In Bible study, anytime something is repeated in a short span of space in Scripture it's because we're supposed to lean in and take notice. There is something that is supposed to be emphasized there.

He doesn't say things repeatedly because He likes to hear Himself talk; it's because He wants to make sure the listener gets the importance of what is being said. The same is true when there's something that is contrasting in a short space of time. We need to lean in and figure out why and what is the importance of why that contrast takes place.

In verse 3 Jesus gets in the boat. In verse 2 Simon had just gotten out of the boat. Verse 2, Simon is out. Verse 3, Jesus is in. The very thing that was representative of disappointment, discouragement, frustration, irritation, the platform that represented everything that Simon wanted to abandon and get away from, Jesus saw that as the perfect thing for Him to get into and transform into a pulpit for His message to be declared to those who were gathered.

Listen, He not only sees you but He's going to use the part of your life, your journey, that you think is useless. The platform that you want to abandon because it represents that discouragement, it represents that disappointment, it is frustrating, you've been fishing and fishing, investing your time, your effort, your emotional energy, your faith, investing what it is that God has asked you to invest, and yet you feel like you keep coming up empty-handed. You are tempted to abandon that platform once and for all. You need to know what it is you think is useless is probably what Jesus is going to step into and make useful for His glory and for His kingdom.

Remember, there were thousands upon thousands of people most likely that were gathered around on this occasion, and Jesus was trying to find the perfect platform to make sure that the folks right here in the front all the way to the very back could hear every word that was going to come out of His mouth. He wanted to make sure they did not miss one single word.

Out of all the places that He could find to make sure that every person was privy to every valuable word that was going to come out of His mouth, the best place Jesus could find was the abandoned boat circumstance of Simon's life.

Here is what you need to know. The abandoned boat circumstance of your life and mine, the season of your life that you're trying to pray your way out of, that you wish you could circumvent, that you're trying to figure out why in the world does the Lord have me here—that segment of your life, even the segment that is a consequence of your own choices and bad decisions, my own sin and rebellion, He has a way of using that platform and making it a pulpit that He proclaims to others how great He is, how powerful He is, and how worthy He is to be praised. He sees you, my friend, and He will use the parts of your life that you feel are useless.

He saw Joseph when Joseph was abandoned and left for dead, alone in that jail. He saw Gideon underneath that oak tree beating out grain in the wine press hiding from his enemies. He saw Hagar who was badly used and abused and then sent away by Sarah and Abraham. He sees you; He sees me, and He has a way of using the very parts of our life that we feel like are so useless and that He might not be able to do anything with. So that platform becomes a natural amphitheater that causes Jesus's voice to resonate across the crowd that has gathered that day.

And on your job, in your neighborhood and mine, in the organizations that you are involved in, the PTA group at your kids' school, the teenagers in the high school, the college students at your university. You need to know that your sphere of influence is the audience that the Lord wants to make sure hears the message of how powerful He is.

Not just by the words that are going to come out of your mouth but by the demonstration of His power through the abandoned boat circumstances in your life. People need to hear not only the testimony that comes out of our mouth; they need to see the transformation in our lives.

They need to see folks that can say, “Look at me. I once was lost, but now I'm found. I once was blind, but now I can see. I once was deaf, but now I can hear. Look at my life and how Jesus has stepped into the portion of my journey that I never thought He would be able to do anything useful with.”

That's why I was so blessed by Andrea's testimony today. When she stood on this platform and courageously shared her story with us. Weren't you blessed by that? Becasue it's a demonstration to us that God can use all of the portions of our journey. [Hear the full story of Andrea’s testimony.]

Those platforms that we would rather abandon, the platforms we would rather not even have in our lives, those abandoned boat situations that are still devastating right now in your life, you need to know He is going to use that for His glory and for your good.

I was thinking about this in relation to one of the attributes of God that I'm becoming very freshly acquainted with again in my life, and I'm so glad that I am. Our God is many things. One of His incredible attributes, among those many, is that He is sovereign. Our God is soverign. I love that.

His sovereignty means that He has stood before time in eternity past and sees all of time into eternity future. That everything that happens in-between the two extremes all along the spectrum, He has already been there and done that.

The sovereignty of God means that He is in control of every single thing that has happened on the spectrum of time and in history. Sovereignty of God not only means He has seen all of time from eternity past to eternity future, but it means that your life on that spectrum He has seen every single day of it. You and I are not here by chance. You weren't born to your parents in your particular neighborhood in this particular country by chance, into this particular generation. He is sovereign.

It means He is in control of your life and all of the days within it. Which means that what happened to you last week or the day before you left to come here, it was a shock to you, but it wasn't a shock to God, because He is sovereign.

His sovereignty is what lets us really exercise what Psalm 46:10 says. “Be still.” “Cease striving. Chill out, and see that I am God.” That's a good verse. His sovereignty lets us do that because it reminds us that even though we often feel out of control of our circumstances, we serve a God who is still very much in control. Anybody else excited about that?

So if we believe that our God is sovereign and that He really is in control of all of our days and all of our circumstances and that He cares for us; if we really believe that, then let's just apply that to our story here in Luke 5. Because if Jesus really is sovereign, and He is, that means that while Simon was out in the water fishing all night long, while he kept throwing in that net and kept coming up empty-handed, and while his disappointment and irritation and frustration grew more and more every single time he pulled that net out and was finding that he wasn't catching what he thought he should have been catching; every single time his disappointment grew and as his anxiety mounted in the wee hours of that night, if God is sovereign, if Jesus is indeed sovereign, then while Simon was shocked about what was happening that evening, Jesus was not.

And that even though verse 1 says the crowd pressed Jesus upon that shoreline of the Sea of Galilee, I just wonder if in Jesus' sovereignty, He knew the morning was coming and that in the morning there was going to be a crowd of people that would need to hear the Word of God, the Word that was going to come out of His mouth, and He was going to need the perfect place to stand.

So all night long, if He had allowed Simon to catch all those fish that Simon wanted to catch and put them on that deck that Simon wanted to fill with all those fish. If it had been full of fish there would have been nowhere for Jesus to stand.

And so sometimes in His sovereignty, Jesus will allow the deck of your life, the platform of your life, to be empty of what you and I want to fill it with, because He needs a place to stand. If we fill it with all of our stuff, there won't be room for His stuff.

The sovereignty of God means that when you are fishing and there is emptiness, when you are fishing but there still seems to be a deficiency and there still seems to be a weakness or lack, it means you not ought to be sad about that, you ought to be excited because if He is leaving a hole, He is getting ready to fill it up with himself.

That's why Paul said, “I don't just talk lightly about my weaknesses. I boast in my weakness.” Paul said, “I get thrilled about my weaknesses. I want to talk about them as much as I possibly can. Let me just tell you, I'm the chief of all sinners. I can't wait to tell you about all my weaknesses, because when I put my weaknesses out there, when I go ahead and just tell it like it is, I am weak in this particular area, I can't do it on my own. No amount of my own gifting or talent, no matter how I throw that fishing line in, it just doesn't pull up what I would expect it to." And he says, "I'm glad about that weakness. Because when I'm weak I get to see the strength of God on display.”

I wonder if the abandoned boat circumstance of your life is the divine setup for Jesus Christ Himself showing up on the shoreline of your experience and your life so that He can step on that platform and show the world what it looks like when He invades the life of a woman who is sold out to Him.

So my friend, He sees you. He will use the part of your life, the part of my life, the season of my life that we feel like is completely useless. He will use it for His glory and for your good.

I remember growing up and my mom. . . . Back in the days when I was a little girl, and I'm sure when many of you were as well, there was none of this eating out for dinner business on Sunday. There was this Sunday meal.

Sometimes my mother started cooking it on Saturday night. I would smell the pot roast all night long. She would just start the preparations for dinner. So she would cook this big old meal on Sundays. The table would have a feast set before us. It was great.

And then I remember after she had cooked on Saturday night and into Sunday, she was done with the cooking for a couple days. I remember on Monday around dinnertime, she would go into the refrigerator and pull out all the leftovers that were there from Sunday. She would take the leftover chicken, the leftover macaroni, the leftover green beans, whatever she had, and she would put it all in front of her and think about it for a little while.

She would start cutting and dicing and chopping and put everything together and pour a little cream of mushroom soup on top of it and sprinkle some cheese on top of it. She put it in the oven about 350 degrees for a little while and then she would pull it out at just the right time and give it a French-sounding name. Anybody know what I'm talking about? She would put it on the table and we'd eat it and we thought we had a brand-new meal. We thought she had created something brand-new.

Because that's what happens when you just put leftovers in the hands of a master. So here is what Jesus does with the abandoned boat part of your life, the disappointment, the discouragements, the parts of your life you think are useless, the parts of mine that I think are useless. He takes them all, and He chops them and dices them, puts them all together, pours the cream of the Holy Spirit on top of them. He sprinkles them with a little grace and mercy, puts them inside the oven of trial for just a little while. But just like any good chef, He is standing right there to make sure you are never overcooked in that oven, never. At just the right time He will pull you out. He will give you a brand-new name, and He will serve you to a lost and dying world that needs to see that our God is able to make all things new.

The part of your life that you feel like is useless, He is going to use it for His glory. And that's exactly what He does. He says to Simon in verse 3, “Push out a little way from the land.” Simon cooperates with Him and does that.

Jesus sits down and He makes that platform a pulpit, that deck becomes a place where He can proclaim His Word. He teaches the multitudes from the boat. Verse 4 says when He had finished speaking, He now turns to Simon and He says, “Push out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”

Oh, I love Simon's answer. He says, “Master, now you do know we've already done this, right? You do know we have worked hard all night and caught absolutely nothing, but at Your bidding I'll do it anyway.”

I love this. “Jesus, You know, I'm an experienced fishermen. I've done this for quite some time, Jesus. Those of us who are experienced at this, Lord Jesus, what we know is on the Sea of Galilee you're supposed to fish in shallow water and you are supposed to fish all night long, not in deep water in the middle of the day.”

Commentators say by the time Jesus finished teaching it would have been high noon. The sun would have been in the middle of the sky. It went against all of Simon's experience for him to do what Jesus was asking Him to do.

Let me tell you something, if you've ever heard the voice of God, then you will know that sometimes God's word to us does not make sense—it doesn't reach an equilibrium point with our own thoughts and with our own direction and our own ambitions. It is not supposed to, because His ways, Isaiah 55, they aren't our ways. His thoughts, they are just not our thoughts.

As high as the heaven is above the earth, that's how high His thoughts are and His ways are above our own. And so He says to us things that contradict our experience. He said to Simon something that contradicted his experience, and Simon wanted to say, “You know what, Jesus? How about I stick to fishing and You stick to preaching? Because what You're saying doesn't make sense.”

And sometimes the Lord will say something to you about how to handle that marital or parenting situation, that situation with your teenager and your finances, your job, your ministry. And it's going to go against your experience because this is not what you've done before.

But you know that sometimes the greatest hindrance to a brand-new move of God in our life is the last move of God. Sometimes we put God in the box of what He's done before. And so when He wants to do something brand-new . . . I think it was Miss Nancy that mentioned it, that one of the highlights of King David wasn't that he sought the Lord but thought he sought the Lord again and again and again and again and again. Even when the circumstance looked the same as it did previously, he didn't assume that God was going to do the same thing just because the circumstance was the same. He sought God and waited for a clear word from God on what to do today in this particular situation.

When God speaks, very frequently His word to you will not make clear sense. And yet Simon gives us a great example because he says, “At Your will, at Your bidding, Lord, just because You said it, I'm going to wave my white hanky and say, ‘Yes, Lord.’ Just because You said it, I'm going to do it. It doesn't make sense to me, but it doesn't have to because I just want to be where You are.”

You do realize, sisters, that you are better off in deep water with Jesus than in shallow water without Him. You are better off in the place that does not make sense but with His favor and His blessings and His promises surrounding you than you are in shallow water but able to stand up on your own two feet in that shallow water.

I would rather be in a place where I think I'm in over my head, where I feel like I just can't catch air, but if Jesus is there with me, I know He is the God that can cause me to actually walk on the water itself. So I'll stay in the deep water with Jesus.

Like Moses said when they were on their way to the Promised Land, Exodus 33:15. He said, “Listen, if Your Presence isn't going with us, I'm not going. If You don't go with us, what will mark us and make other nations know that we are set apart unto You?”

So the presence of God is what you and I are after. If Jesus is going deep, You need to go deep. So is there a place in your life right now you have sensed over the course of this weekend that He is calling You into the risky, deep waters of faith? Where He is asking you to go deep with Him and you feel like yes, you are going to be in over your head but do you know once you're already in over your head, at that point it really doesn't matter how much further you go, because you're already in under there, right?

So I'm saying that we ought to just go deep—as deep as He calls us to into the reckless, risky place of faith. Because if He is with you in that place, you are better off than being by yourself in a place where you can stand on your own two feet with your own talent, your own experience, and your own gifting.

He is calling you to that place for the same reason He called Simon to that place. Because He was about to blow Simon's mind. The shallow water was to teach the people. The deep water was to teach Simon. Shallow water, that was for them. The deep water, that was for him.

If God is calling you into the deep place, you need to know, my friend, it is a divine setup. The shallow stuff that was to teach the people, but in your life when He is calling you into the deep places, you need to know it is a setup for you to experience Him; for you personally not to just know Him as words on a page, not to just know Him as a God who intervened in the lives of people so long ago; not to just be a churchgoer who applauds at the testimonies that sister so-and-so is giving on Wednesday nights; not to just be that kind of person.

He wants you to be the one that can say, “Let me tell you what my God has done for me. Let me tell you about a time I was in deep waters and my God showed up and showed me what it looked like when He intervenes in a life that needs Him desperately.” Is He calling you to deep waters this weekend? Say, “Yes, Lord, at your bidding I will go wherever You want me to go.”

So He pulls out there to the deep water with Jesus to the nonsensical, irrational place of faith. And Jesus has him cast out his net. Jesus has him cast out his net. Y'all do know that Jesus could have just said, “Fish, get in the boat.” And the fish would have got in the boat—there would have been trout jumping up from everywhere to get in the boat.

It's the same God that said, “Peace be still,” and the winds and the waves obeyed. But He didn't do that. He said, “Simon, cast your net.” Because for some reason the Lord wants us to actually participate with Him in the experience of His promises manifested and experienced in our life. He wants to bring us along for the ride.

In the Scriptures there are over 8,000 promises that are made available to believers in Jesus Christ. That's you and me. Over 8,000 promises. But the vast majority of them He did not put within our hand. He put within our reach. Because there is a process, an extension of yourself that has to be exerted before you and I get the experience of those promises in our life.

So He says to Simon, “Cast out the net.” And he casts out the net at the Lord's bidding. And verse 6 says, “When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish and their nets began to break." Verse 7 says, "They signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them, and they came and filled both of the boats so that they began to sink.” That's a lot of fish.

I love that there were so many fish, so many fish everywhere that Simon just signaled to his partners for them to come over. It’s very interesting to me that he signaled to them. Because if it would have been me, I would have had to do more than signal.

I mean, if all of those fish had been coming up so much so they were everywhere, I know these waters the night before had been completely unproductive, completely unfruitful. I'm on the same body of water where I had tried in my own natural experience and talent and ability, my own rationale to try to get fish to come out of this body of water but it didn't work. But now with Jesus calling me out to the place of faith and obedience to Him, I am seeing fruit for this investment of time, energy, effort that I have put in. If I was seeing that abundance like Simon was seeing it, it would be hard for me, maybe it’s because I'm just a girl, to not say anything. I would have had to holler to my partners, “Hey, guys, get over here. You aren't going to believe this!”

Simon didn't do that. It says he just signaled. The Scripture doesn't say why he didn't shout, why he signaled. But I just wonder if it's because he was speechless. I wonder if it's because when he tried in his mind to find the right words to describe what he had just seen Jesus do, the miracle he had just seen Jesus perform in this risky place of faith when he had long given up fishing for that particular occasion. He was done; he had cleaned his nets. At the bidding of God he was willing to get them dirtied up all over again and go with Jesus back into the place that he had wanted to escape. He was willing to move into the place of faith with Jesus.

I just wonder if the response, if the miracle that he received from Jesus was so astounding that he could not in all of the terminology that he had in his mind, he could not come up with the right words to describe how his heart was beating in his chest and how the hope of God was filling up within him because he had never experienced God like this.

I just wonder if some of us are here this weekend and then going into our fishing expeditions tomorrow night and on Sunday. And in those places we're going to see in the risky place of faith as we go with God, we're going to see such an abundance, such a harvest as God moves in our lives that we will be rendered speechless because He blows our mind with His greatness and His power and His presence in our lives, in our families, on our jobs, in our neighborhoods. Speechless.

When is the last time you looked at your marriage that you thought was falling apart and you were speechless because God had not only kept you together, but He kept you happily together—passion and peace in your home?

When is the last time that relationship between your mom and you, you thought that breach would never be mended? You thought it would always be fractured. But the two of you are here together today, friends loving each other.

When is the last time your kid had made a decision, your adult child had decided to live in a way that was completely different than the way you raised them, but you've seen that child place faith in Jesus and come back to living in a way that is honoring to God?

When is the last time you've seen your finances come from a state of complete destruction, just flat-lined, debt up to your ears, but you've seen how the Lord can reverse a financial dilemma?

When is the last time you prayed for a friend or a loved one that was not saved and they would not turn to Jesus, and after all of these years of you sharing the gospel delicately with them and praying for them, you thought they would never come to know the Lord, but you watched as the Holy Spirit lifted the veil from their eyes and they came to place faith in Jesus Christ?

When is the last time something happened in your life and mine that literally left us speechless? Where all we could do was say to our friends, “You've got to come see this for yourself.”

I want to suggest to you that that kind of miracle only happens in the risky place of faith. Some of you have abandoned your boat. You've been so discouraged and disappointed that you've abandoned the boat, and you sense this weekend the Holy Spirit is calling you to get back onto that platform, the deck of your fishing expedition, whatever it is that place of disappointment to get back in there with those emotional nets you've already got tended and cleaned up.

You weren't intending on casting them back out there again, but you sense God calling you to invest again. I want to suggest that if He is calling you to the deep, it is because it is a divine setup for Him to demonstrate His glory and His power and His presence to you in your life.

The risky place of faith is sometimes where that happens, most of the time where that happens. Think about it in the Scriptures, can you imagine how Noah must have looked building an ark? Especially when folks said, “What's an ark?”

“I don't know.”

“What's rain?”

“I don't know.”

Can you imagine how silly Moses must have looked stretching out the rod over a big old body of water as if it would accomplish something?

Can you just picture Sarah shopping in the maternity department at K-Mart on the promise that she would have a son in her old age?

Can you catch a glimpse of David facing an enormous giant with nothing more than a slingshot and five smooth stones in his hands?

I want you to look at the Israelites walking around the walls of Jericho for seven days with the inhabitants looking out at them as the strange people who were waging war in a way they had never, ever seen before?

What about Esther going into the king against protocol in hopes of saving her people?

Or Caleb at the age of eighty-five refusing the retirement package and continuing again to journey onward to Canaan?

Or the wise men, following a simple star talking about, "We're going to see the Messiah"?

Or Peter stepping out of the boat when there was no solid surface to stand on?
 
Or the little boy with only two simple loaves and fish?

Or the woman with an issue of blood approaching Jesus?

Or blind Bartimaeus being willing to call out to Jesus in the midst of a crowd that was telling him to be quiet?

Or Mary, a pregnant teenager, saying an angel did it?

And the illustration of all illustrations, think about Jesus Himself, how foolish it would have appeared to others as He hung on a cross because He claimed to an unbelieving people to be the Messiah.

All of them would have looked foolish except that it did rain, and Noah’s ark did become a refuge and offer salvation. Moses's rod did divide the Red Sea. Sarah did get pregnant and bear the promised son, Isaac. David, he did kill Goliath. The walls of Jericho did come tumbling down. Esther did save her people from annihilation. Caleb did march into the Promised Land. The wise men did follow the star and find the Messiah. Peter, he did walk on water. Mary, she did give birth to Jesus. And Jesus Himself, He hung on the cross, but three days later He got up out of the grave and was resurrected for you and for me, amen!

And if it is the foolish, reckless place of abandoned faith in God that gets those kind of results, then I want that in my life. Anybody?

Will you stand to your feet with me tonight? Because I just wonder if in this moment you need to do a quick moment of business with God. That there is a place that is a little bit more risky than you would prefer that He is calling you to venture into with Him, and you've been hesitating all weekend about making that full commitment to just do it because, man, it's deep water out there.

You sense God's Spirit is saying, “Just come on with me. I've got fish for you out there that you can't even imagine.”

Will you bow your heads? And if the risky place of faith is what He is calling you to, reckless abandon for Christ Jesus to continue to get back in the boat and invest again in the marriage, invest again in purity, invest again in that emotional attachment you have with your child who keeps disappointing you, to invest again in that ministry, to keep on keeping on because He said it and at His word you want to say, “Yes Lord.”

If there is something specific the Holy Spirit is causing us to respond to tonight, even if you're just watching us by live stream, you are included in this prayer tonight. I want you to raise your hands right where you are.

If this is you, if this is a call from God's Spirit to you about something specific tonight, just raise your hand. Lord Jesus, you see the hands that are raised all over this room. Women who are saying here and who are watching tonight, women who are saying that they are all in. They are saying “yes” at your bidding.

“I'm going where You've asked me to go.” Lord, I give You every single one of them. I give You every single one of their fishing expeditions, as unique as they are, unique as the hands that are raised tonight.

So Lord, I give You their experiences. I give You their hearts, Lord. I give You their minds, their will. They want to follow You. And so, Lord, I thank You that You will meet them even in this moment at the point of their need.

I thank You that You will meet them and give them a peace that passes all understanding. I thank You, Lord, that just like You did with Simon, You will make these women aware of Your presence as they travel into the deep; aware of Your presence in a way they've never been aware of it before.

Lord, I'm praying that You will surprise them even before this weekend is over. Will You surprise them with something that just lets them know You saw their hand up tonight? That You saw them. You are aware of their circumstances, and You are going deep sea fishing with them.

And Lord, when our boats are so full that they are overflowing, we will be so careful to give You all the praise and all the glory for what You have done. In Jesus' name, all God's women said, “Amen.”