I went fishing with my daughter a few nights ago. She was here at Harvester Island for a visit. Just five days. This is the trouble with children. They grow up and leave and only come back to visit, like guests. Sometimes you can hardly stand for the wonder of it: the babies you birthed from your body become your nearest friends, no matter how far away they live. How does this happen? It only takes a lifetime.
We went out fishing one night. We have fished together many times, she and I, over almost 30 years. Mother and daughter out on the ocean, one skiff of women among many skiffs of men. We do the work quickly, hardly talking about the net, the tide, the fish, the kelp, the task at hand. We don't need words for any of this.
We were out until 11 pm, as is usual. It was a kelp-y night, the nets full of roving bands of bull kelp, finger kelp, rockweed, the gardens of the ocean uprooted by storm and high tides. We have to pick the nets, then, of these unwanted vegetables. It takes hours.
Shall I tell you it is fun? Not for the ones who do this nearly every day. Three of my 5 sons are here for the duration of the season, until the end of September. It's a very long season of nearly unending work, with no days off.
But there is still so much to discover here---beyond perseverance. In my better moments, whether I’m riding a wild sea, walking the beach or mending net on shore, I remember the disciples. I feel a special connection to those men fishing and washing their nets two thousand years ago by the Sea of Galilee. Jesus chose fishermen as His very first disciples, and Peter was chief of them all. Yes, sometimes I feel it—this life on the shoreline, on the water, in the storms, has grown my faith immensely. But after 39 seasons here, in the middle of this life, I need to see Jesus again. I need to hear Him again. Maybe you do as well on whatever island and in whatever waters you sail every day. I am more than guessing this. I have met so many who have left their faith, who have left the church, who have given up on the Bible, who have “unfollowed” Jesus.
How many? I have found numbers that describe what we’re all seeing and experiencing. In their 2014 book, Churchless, George Barna and David Kinnaman report that 43 percent of Americans are “Unchurched,” meaning they do not attend any church or have any kind affiliation with a church. Thirty-three percent of the population is “De-churched,” meaning they once were active in church but are no longer. The Barna Group has also found that the numbers of those who are skeptical or agnostic toward the Bible, who believe it’s “just another book of teachings written by men that contains stories an advice” has doubled in just the last three years. Even the 49 percent that fall into the “Actively Churched” category includes those who attend church as little as once a month.
Clearly, many are struggling with their faith, with the church, with Jesus Himself.
Even those of us who are sure we are followers of Jesus, we have issues too! We’ve read the Gospel countless times. We’ve heard about Jesus’ miracles in more Sunday school lessons and sermons than we care to recall. We can instantly extract a moral lesson from any of the parables and miracles. We’ve got it down. The suspense is gone. The surprise is gone. We know how it all turns out. Yawn. And then when we do wake up, we’re sodden with guilt and failure. What kind of “followers” are we, anyway?
Maybe we need to go again, then, all of us. One more time. We need to be surprised again. We need to live and breathe the words of Jesus as though they matter, as though they're real--because they matter and because they're real. Crossing the Waters: Following Jesus through the Storms, the Fish, the Doubt and the Seas takes us there. You may have read it already. Wonderful and thank you. If not, in these next weeks in this space I'll give a taste and a fresh look into this island life and the ways it reveals Jesus to all of us.
Lest you are afraid of boredom, don't worry. You can't be bored in a storm when you know you're going to die. You can't be bored when one fish explodes into a boatload that breaks your nets. And maybe you think you already know this man Jesus----or you're sure he's just a fable? Yes, of course. I used to think both of these as well. I hope you'll follow me these next summer weeks as I show you why I've changed my mind.
Here are a few small hints:
I hope you'll come along! Meanwhile, I will be giving away three Crossing the Waters books this week, (and more in the coming weeks.) I hope you receive one! Here's how to enter the draw:
1. Share this post on your social media,
2. Let me know in the comments below,
3. include your email address so I can get your address
Blessings on your week, dear friends!!