When Jesus had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. – Luke 5:4-6 (NRSV)
Once, several years ago, my dad was sent to the store for $20 worth of shrimp. He got confused and returned with 20 pounds of shrimp. A lot for four people.
Whenever the story gets told (which is regularly), my mom is sure to ask, “It never occurred to you when you saw all that shrimp that it might be too much?”
But the answer is self-evident: no.
In my mind, those 20 pounds of shrimp have become a symbol of God’s net-bursting, alabaster-jar-breaking, cup-overflowing grace.
Just ask Simon. He and his fellow fishers receive a blessing completely out of proportion from what they’re expecting, from what they’re hoping, from even their wildest imaginings.
Exhausted after a disappointing night, they put back out to sea begrudgingly. They would rather go home and sleep, but maybe Jesus can help them catch at least enough to feed their families.
But from the first tug on the nets, they know it’s so much more. Too much for their families. Enough for every family in town.
That’s the way it is with God’s grace, God’s love, God’s welcome. Too much to bring in alone. Too much to keep to yourself. More than enough to share.
God, didn’t it ever occur to you that this was too much? Thank you for answering, “no.”
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.