- By Patricia Holbrook For the AJC
The Journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step. – Lao Tzu
The story spread like fire in the small fishing village. People hurried to the beach, just to take a glimpse of the extraordinary catch. Simon Peter and his fishing partners, James and John, looked at the nets, in disbelief.
It all started when Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and great crowds were gathered to listen to his teachings. He noticed two empty fishing boats at the water’s edge, while the fishermen washed their nets. He stepped into one of the boats, asking Simon Peter to push it out into the water, where he proceeded to teach the crowds. When he finished speaking, he told Peter to row the boat back to where the water was deeper, and let down the nets once again. Peter was puzzled. They had fished all night, unsuccessfully. As an experienced fisherman, he knew better: The best time for fishing ended with the break of dawn.
But Peter had been watching the master from a distance. He had heard of the healings that took place, and that even demons fled a man’s body at Jesus’ command. Therefore, against all reason, Peter obeyed. As he did so, the men caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. It took two boats to take the catch back to shore. The miracle, which started with one small step of obedience against all odds, propelled the men to follow Jesus for the remainder of his life on earth, and take part in the events that changed the course of history forever.
I thought about this passage recently, when I felt compelled to take a step that did not make much sense at all. It happened on the last day of the year, when a random thought crossed my mind during the New Year’s service at church. At first, I was tempted to reason it out and dismiss it. But the idea would not leave me and the more I prayed about it, the more I believed God was instructing me to move forward. Knowing from past experiences that God does not always make sense, I decided to obediently take that small step on the first week of 2018.
I honestly did not want to. Not only because I secretly was afraid of failure and ridicule, but also because I knew that if the door opened, the task ahead would bring hard work and sacrifice. However, despite my skepticism and fear, I chose to take one small step forward, and make a phone call.
“OK, Lord!” I reasoned, “this makes no sense and I am scared. But if this is your will, open the door and I will know it.”
Just as Peter reluctantly cast the empty net into what he believed to be an empty sea, my legs trembled while taking that first step. And just as the apostles’ arms could barely hold the weight of a net full of fish, my hands shook as my small seed of faith brought forth the promise of a bountiful harvest.
I can’t help but wonder how many of us fail to fulfill our dreams, year after year, simply because we refuse to sow a small seed of faith … or quit in the middle of the journey. It may be that we are scared to take a step forward in the dark, trusting God with the unknown. Or it may be that we allow setbacks to become permanent stumbling blocks, instead of allowing them to strengthen our resolve to move forward with renewed commitment and faith. As we quit, or never start, promises remain unfulfilled, and blessings delayed. In our skepticism, laziness or fear, we unintentionally withhold God’s best.
May we never forget that every great deed ever accomplished started with a small step, and that God rejoices in opening doors for those who persevere and trust him with the unlikely and the impossible.