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If you could do anything you want, what would you do today?
One evening as seven of the disciples sat together, Peter said, “I’m going fishing!” He was raised fishing and now that Jesus was dead and yet not-dead, life was confusing. Peter knew how to fish and he wanted to feel the old rhythmic actions he knew so well. Actions that made sense.
Fishing with a net, the way Peter’s family fished, was a group sport. You couldn’t do it alone. As he confidently declared his decision to go fishing, he was also issuing an invitation. He needed them. If the other disciples did not join him, he would have spent the night alone and useless on his boat.
“We’re coming with you,” the others said. And together, as the sun set over the lake, Peter and his friends set sail into the waters, hoping for a catch.
The next morning, as the sun rose, a man shouted from the shore, “Do you have any fish?”
They could see a small cooking fire burning behind the man. Maybe he wanted to buy some fish for his breakfast.
“No!” Peter shouted back.
The man threw up his hands, as if he were disappointed, then throwing his hands sideways as if he were casting a net, he shouted, “Try the right side of the boat. You’ll find some there!”
A memory of another day stirred deep inside Peter. The seven friends gathered the net and cast it over the right side of the boat. As they pulled it tight, the weight of it pulled back. The old rush of fisherman’s adrenalin flooded through Peter - it seemed a lifetime ago that he’d felt a catch like this! The muscles of his arms and back tightened and pulled, tightened and pulled, in the old familiar rhythm. This was living! Standing beside Peter, fighting the net, John said, “Peter, you know it’s the Lord!”
Peter dropped his section of the net, the earlier incomplete memory hit full force. Of Course! He grabbed his robe from the middle of the boat, tied it around himself, jumped into the water and struggled to shore. The other disciples tied the net to the side of the boat and sailed it in.
Leaving the water, Peter approached the man who had called out to them. But he saw the fire - a charcoal fire, much like the one he stood at the night Jesus was condemned - the night he denied his Lord three times. The reality of it hit so hard Peter fell back into yesterday’s depression. He didn’t notice the fish cooking on the fire.
The man said, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”
Peter spun around and ran back to shore, glad for something to do. He ran past the other disciples who were now walking up the beach. He waded to the boat and grabbed the net suspended in the water. He loosed it from the boat and dragged the net ashore. The other disciples returned to the net to count and divide the fish. There were 153 fish. Peter held three of the wiggling fish by their tails and said, “That’s 25 each for you.” The other six looked at each other, confused. “I only need these three,” Peter said as he turned and headed back to the fire.
* continues tomorrow *
The Review and Herald, July 14, 1910