One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

In this account, Jesus is early in his ministry and is teaching the crowds by a lake. I have read through this gospel dozens of times, but something struck me for the first time: although Peter and his fishing partners have been working hard all night and must have been exhausted, they made time to stay and listen to Jesus teach.

After Jesus had taught from Peter’s boat a little offshore, he told the men to go out again and let their nets down for a catch. Led by Peter, the weary fishermen didn’t hesitate to follow Jesus’ instructions, even though they appeared to make no sense. In their experience, fishing was best at night, and even then they’d not managed to even catch a cold. The only reason Peter launched out again was “because you say so.” In the natural order of things, this was futile, but Peter recognized that Jesus was not limited by the natural order of things.

Their payback for obedient was swift and indisputable: now they caught so many fish their nets were breaking under the strain. What a picture this is of what happens when I put spending time with Jesus ahead of how tired or stressed or discouraged I feel — he fills the nets to overflowing with what I was trying (and failing) to catch through my own efforts.

Later in the chapter, Jesus is teaching and healing inside a house and the crowds are overflowing, making normal access to him impossible. Some men had carried a friend who was paralysed to the place so he could be healed, but they are stymied by the crowds. Instead of giving up and going home, they go up on the roof. (Homes at that time all had outside stairways to the roof, which was flat and used as an extra room and a place to cool off in the warm evenings. Roofs were typically covered with flat tiles over insulation of brush, straw or similar material.) The friends lifted the tiles, dug through the insulation, and lowered the paralytic down in front of Jesus.

As I read this, I reflected that when I go through the roof, it’s an explosion of anger, frustration and/or stress, and definitely not an example I want anyone to emulate. Please, Lord, I want to do this kind of going through the roof in prayer for someone I care about — not being deflected by obstacles, and finding a way to dig through until I get my friend to the feet of Jesus. I want to do whatever it takes, under Your leading, because You say so.

Finally, I was reminded for the umpteenth time that no matter how many times I read God’s Word, He has something more to say to me. It truly is the living Word. I pray that it will be living in each of us today.