The cost and joys of ‘bringing in’ Revival (part 4)
Thanks for reading this series of blog post, we’re almost at the end of this mini series. Let me know in the comments below if you’ve found them stirring and helpful. Don’t forget to catch up on part 1, part 2, and part 3.
They caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.Luke 5:6-7
So, Simon has allowed his internal ‘crumb’ of faith to be multiplied in the hands of Jesus and finds himself spiritually ‘feasting’ on far more than he bargained for. The miracle haul is way more than Simon alone can handle and so he faces the task of catching others up in rescuing the spoils, while they’re available!
We’re not sure what this haul of fish would have been worth in monetary value but I’m guessing the other fishermen were completely clued in. They wasted no time in recognising the value and the jeopardy of what was taking place. The catch was suddenly available to be ‘caught’ but it was equally likely to escape! It must have been clear no, one person, was able to bring this in alone and all hands were needed to land the catch of a lifetime. The community of fishermen get involved and not just in a single boat, others are called into the fray. There is much to do and each fishermen can suddenly make use of every professional skill they have ever learned. What a joy it must have been to work alongside awe-struck comrades.
As I’m praying for my neighbourhood I often wonder what would happen if God actually answered my prayers immediately. It’s completely possible that as I’m offering Him my ‘crumb’ of faith, He is stirring a miracle catch under the surface of my city. So what would happen if an awakening of the lost in Hull began in earnest? What if all those folks I’ve faithfully shared Jesus with over the last two decades, of living in this city, suddenly felt convicted of their need for Jesus? What if my phone began to ring off the hook, as many of them recall I’m the only Christian they know? What if that same thing began to happen to every member of our church? What if we’re at church one day and hundreds of people just show up, compelled by the spirit just to come and get right with God? What if it happened at 5am in the morning? Would they find Jesus followers who are awake and ready? Would we, like the fishermen in the story, recognise both the value and the jeopardy of what was taking place around us?
If many people at once, came under the sudden conviction of the Holy Spirit, as I often pray they will, we’d face similar conditions to those that the fishermen faced. Praying for revival means we, in faith, must get ready for our prayers to be answered. Otherwise what’s the point of pleading with God for it? What’s the point of recognising our lack and the spiritual lack in our cities if we’re not expecting the Saviour to step into that lack? Don’t we believe He is who He says He is? Will we allow the spark of hope to ignite us into obedient faith-filled action, even if the methods Jesus prescribes in scripture make no sense in our time and culture?
We must acknowledge revival brings with it joy and jeopardy. I’d LOVE to see my phone lighting up and my church rammed with people hungry to know Jesus. It would be hard work speaking to them all and telling them the good news of what Jesus did for them on the cross, yet nothing would bring me greater joy and satisfaction. But there is jeopardy too. What if there aren’t enough Christians ready and equipped to know how to handle such a ‘catch’? It would take MANY well prepared believers to disciple the hungry through conversion and into maturity in Christ. Without this preparation in place it would be possible for our nets to begin to break.
What’s the point of recognising our lack and the spiritual lack in our cities if we’re not expecting the Saviour to step into that lack? Don’t we believe He is who He says He is?
My Dad once helped out at a Billy Graham event in the 1980s. They saw hundreds, possibly thousands of people – mainly students – respond to the gospel. As my Dad left the stadium where they had gathered, he recalled the atmosphere of joy and hope among the crowd. He knew the spirit had moved and a large ‘catch’ had come in and huge numbers responded to the gospel. Yet, he reflected on what he experienced in the months to following. Not many of the churches in the city, where the crusade had taken place, were able to embed new believers into church life. His thoughts on why that had been were around the wineskin of church structures being too inflexible for such new life, networks of churches not working together sufficiently to handle the influx and current believers not being personally equipped to take a group of baby Christians through to maturity. The nets broke and the fish escaped. Hearts that had been awakened, went back to sleep. All for lack of faith-filled preparation.
A move of God can bring great joy – but it also tests us. Will we work together across denomiations for the sake of the kingdom? Will we equip everyday lay-christians, empowering them to believer they can help bring in the catch by forming a net around new converts to Christ? Each established believer willing to take responsibility for a small group of new believers? Discipling them and teaching them to disciple other lost people in their lives? Does the averyage believer in your church know THEY can baptise new believers and start house churches that grow and reproduce? Will your church structures handle alot of new believers all at once? Will they be able to scale up or handle the ferocious thirst for worship, teaching and mission that new believers need?
Preparing our nets ahead of time really matters.
I imagine Simon and company had spent time the day before inspecting and repairing their nets, just in case a catch were to come in. What might occur if we set about doing the same?
It is true that we cannot make a miracle of catch appear in our cities. But we can learn from Simon in this story.
- do the prep work ahead of time – learned a skill, prepared the nets
- recognise the places of lack and emptiness – cry out for change
- willing to admit the end of ourselves
- willing to listen to fresh instructions even if they dont make ‘sense’
- be obedient despite doubt
- Not too proud to ask for help outside of our own boat.
- work hard alongside others to haul in the catch – remain aware of jeopardy.
There are many more things I’d love to draw out of this passage, but time does not allow at the moment. But just to mention one more…
This is not the last time Simon sees this miracle. We know Jesus performs this same miracle in John 20 – after Jesus has been resurrected Simon (now called Peter) is out fishing once again, perhaps convinced he’s blown it with Jesus and so retrunes to the only thing he knows how to do. Jesus performs this same ‘sign’ again as a way to draw Peter back to himself, as he did when he first called Peter to be his disciple. This time he uses it to restore him to the ministry of being a ‘fisher of men’.
But I would argue Peter sees this miracle catch of fish a third time. This time its not literal, but spiritual. On the day of Penecost in Acts 2 Peter is the one (along with others) filled with the Spirit – now its the spirit pseaking fresh intructions from Jesu into Peters heart. This time Peter doesn’t hesitiate and recognises the miracle catch of fish before him – the crowd who are witnessing the signs and wonders as the Spirit is poured out – but he also recognises the jeopardy. This crowd could easily disperse and go home having seen an interesting thing but without someone explaining what is happening in that moment – the miracle catch will be lost.
Peter is quick to obey and this time, full of faith as he does so. He stands and explains the good news and a huge catch of 3000 men (plus women and children?) are brought to faith in Christ, the new believers are baptised and the first church is born.
The miracle of the catch of fish happens twice literally and once figuratively. The first two signs were to build Peter’s faith in who Jesus is and what the Spirit is at work doing with our small crumbs of obedience. But our small obedience’s are always building somewhere. They are building us into the people/disciples we are meant to be. Capabale of great things in the kingdom. So that ‘small thing’ the Spirit has been nudging you to do – go do it. Do it quick. Even if it doesn’t make sense.
May Jesus be lining you up for a ‘miracle catch’ more than you can ask, think or imagine – whatever that looks like for you in your context and may we all get readdy for the MORE God has planned for us.
Thanks for reading – comment below if these posts have stirred you and let me know what small obedient actions Jesus is leading you to take.