I remembered sitting in the worship center of our church on Saturday evening with my wife and two college age daughters listening to Neal Jeffrey preach. If you have not heard Neal preach, you have missed a treat. That evening he was preaching out of John 21 4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish…14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. I remembered Neal saying, “No matter the distance from the shoreline you are (referring to age), cast your net and bring all the fish in you can.” Then, he started speaking to the kids saying that the further out you are, cast your nets because you will be able to bring in more fish. In my mind, I was praying hard that kids would hear this message!! Go gettum’ God! But then Neal switched his application and I remember him saying, “No matter how close you are to the shore (meaning how old you are referring even to me) cast your net and bring as many as you can with you to shore.” That evening, God got my attention with this simple metaphor and challenged me with His still small voice to cast my net. I did not know what to expect but knew God wanted something from me. In my mind being in my early 50’s, I thought that I was well past the time for God to start using my net especially since I was coming out of the fog of 30 years of deep, dark depression in my life. I walked away challenged but could not figure out what this meant for my life and eventually put it on the backburners of my mind…I will continue to tithe and let the younger folks bring in the fish. So, as real as the experience was, I parked it. Probably another year rolled around and my Bible Fellowship teacher, Jerry Reeves, challenged my wife and I to become a part of a ministry in our church called “Before You Say I Do” as coaches. I quickly told him that I could not see this happening. However, he persuaded Pam and me to attend an intro meeting. I told him that we would attend but do not expect anything. Well, we were convicted to start coaching these young couples relative to marriage. We were supposed go over an assessment with them in one two-hour session and our responsibilities would be done. However, we decided to extend the courtesy that if they would like to meet again to discuss any questions they might have, feel free to call us. Hey, we did not expect them to take us up on this. But, they did! One session turned into a number of discussions. And, before we knew it were hooked helping these kids. That turned into 10 to 15 hours per week ministering to young couples and we saw fruitfulness which was a surprise. That turned into us getting involved in another ministry dealing with struggling marriages. That turned into Pam and I heading a ministry called mentors4couples in our church and ended up with us teaching two Bible Fellowship classes…close to 50 couples a week. Crazy! How could God use an old, ADD, bag of bones like me?! But, He did.
There is a powerful parable that to me addresses this. Matthew 20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ 5 So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ 8 And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ 9 And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius.” No matter how long they worked, the master gave each of the laborers the same wage! If you think about it, many of the Old Testament Patriarchs were well into their years before they got going. Abraham was an advanced age when God’s promise to him came true, his heir, Isaac was conceived by his advanced age wife. Moses was eighty when his ministry took off. No matter what time of your life God reaches out to you to help, get going! His grace will bless and empower you.
So, back to the original metaphor, no matter how close you are to the shoreline, cast your net and bring in all the fish you can!