The Universal Way | Pastor’s Blog

A Guide for the February 10th Worship Service


Scripture: Luke 5:1-11

Scripture for Next Week: Psalm 1


This past week I participated in an event called Challenge Day (Click on the Link for the web site).  A dear friend of mine has been a Challenge Day coach at nearly 20 events held at high schools.  She has been working for years to bring the event here, and finally succeeded.  Through these events she has witnessed lives being transformed as people begin to publicly admit who they really are and who they truly want to be, often for the first time in their lives.  The event this past Wednesday was no different.

Imagine 40 community leaders from Northwest Arkansas gathered in a room.  These are leaders of schools, business, financial institutions, venture capital providers, a veritable who’s who of our community.  And these leaders are being asked to completely let their guard down and share who they are, sharing with strangers hopes, dreams, hurts and fears that they may have never told a soul before the event.  It was a beautiful, life shaping, emotionally exhausting day.  It was a day that helped everyone in the room connect at a deep human level in which surface level masks and false images were discarded.  It was a day in which people voluntarily left their comfort zones and exposed their inner selves.  This is the kind of community that Jesus is seeking to form.  This is what the kingdom of God looks like on earth  it is in heaven.

Unfortunately, many of us have never experienced such a safe space.  So we have coated ourselves with layers of armor as protection, but that armor weighs us down and keeps us from taking the risks that lead to abundant life.  We hide that fact that we feel inadequate to the tasks of life, that we fear we will never live up to the expectations of family and friends, so we create well crafted social media images that hide the truths of who we really are and who we really need to be.

Andrew Shaia is a PhD anthropologist and clinical psychologist.  He is also Notre Dame trained Catholic theologian.  He understands the human condition.  In his book, Heart and Mind, he writes,

I learned that storytellers identify four parts in the great myths and epics of ancient literature—parts named by Joseph Campbell—as hearing the summons, enduring the obstacles, receiving the boon, and returning to community. At that point, I became virtually certain for myself that this fourfold inner pilgrimage is a universal truth whose imprint can be found across time, geography, culture and religious tradition. Every single pattern asks the journeyer to begin and start some form of inquiry. Next comes a time of trial, often involving pitfalls, and sometimes trickery, but always bringing new and hard-won understanding. The gift of enlarged comprehension, wholeness, and greater perspective is third, sometimes coming suddenly, often with the sense of outside assistance. The fourth step requires actual practice of the wisdom gained, with some component of bringing that knowledge back to the community or to those who come after the journeyer.  (Pg. 20.  Italics are mine)

It is deeply ingrained in human nature that to reach our potential we need to step away from where we find ourselves and risk, perhaps risk everything, to find the person that God wants us to be.  That often means telling parents that their hopes and dreams for us are not our hopes and dreams.  It may mean teaching our children to be who God is calling them to be instead of who we wish they would become.  It always means taking risks and stepping out in faith.  It means leaving our comfort zone and striving to become…what?  Perhaps we can only discover what we have the potential to become by striving, risking, leaving home.

Peter the fisherman is in a boat with Jesus.  He and his friends have been fishing all night and they, are, exhausted.  Jesus tells them to cast their nets down one more time, but…not here in the shallows.  The fish, he tells them, are in deep water.  Against their better judgment, the young men row the boats out of the safety of the shallows and into deep water.  It is here that so many fish are hauled into the boats that they begin to sink, far from shore, far from the comfort zone, in deep water.

“When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” 11 When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him (Luke 5:8-11, NRSV).”

Have you achieved your hopes and dreams?  Do you feel in the depths of your soul that you have become or are becoming the person who God wants you to be?  Perhaps something is keeping you in the shallows.  What would it take for you to row out into deep waters?  Would you be willing to leave everything if it meant becoming the person Jesus is calling you to be?