Close your eyes, and consider your workplace: the place where you put regular time and effort; the place which demands your experience and skill. It might your home, where you raise children, cook and clean. It might be a classroom, where you teach or learn. It might be an office, where you negotiate and communicate. It might be a garden, where you help things grow. It might be a courtroom, or a library, or a factory, or a studio, or a hospital. Wherever it is, whatever you do: consider your workplace. Imagine yourself there.
Now imagine: It’s the end of the day, a long and fruitless day, and you’re tired. It’s been a day of striving, a day of labour, a day with nothing to show for it but mess. You begin to clear up. You’re putting things away; you’re doing the filing; you’re sorting through emails; you’re cleaning the bench. And as you tidy, you feel frustrated and exhausted. Perhaps your head is throbbing; perhaps your muscles ache. Maybe you feel anxious about money; maybe you’re even doubting your skill. One way or another, you’re looking forward to a quiet meal, and resting awhile.
A man comes along. You’ve met him once before, in an encounter so strange that you try not to remember. He asks to come into your workplace. You owe him a big favour: so, tiredly, you shrug, and you let him in.
He enters, and there in your workplace he says some wonderful things. His voice is gentle, but his words ring loud and clear; other people gather near to listen.
He stops. He glances at you and you know he knows all those things which bother you: the work that never got done; the futility of your efforts; the exhaustion, the frustration, even, perhaps, the shame. He looks, and he tells you to go back to work, but this time to go deep: to go deep and try again.
It’s not his work. It’s your workplace, your work. You’re the expert; you’re the professional; you’re the one with runs on the board. And it’s the end of a long and fruitless day, and you’re tired.
You look him in the eyes.
- What do you see there? How do you feel? What might be blocking you from going deep?
“Go deep,” he says, “go deep and try again.”
“I worked hard all day … nothing’s come of it … but … you’re the boss.
“If you say so, I will cast off from the shallows.
“If you say so, I will try again.
“If you say so, I will keep at my vocation.
“If you say so, I will trust in your presence in my workplace.
“If you say so, I will. I will go deep.”
- How could you go deeper in your workplace? Where does Jesus direct you to go?
With this man beside you, you take a deep breath; you go deep. You try one more time … and everything just clicks into place.
Suddenly, you are surrounded by abundance as silvery shimmering life leaps and shoots and flashes around you. Your workplace is teeming.
It’s so much life, too much to handle, and you call to your colleagues, your partners, your helpmates to come, come and lend a hand! Together, you raise life out of chaos; together, you raise life out of darkness and into the light. Your workplace overflows with life.
- What might abundant life look like in your workplace? How do you feel at the thought? Excited? Curious? Cautious? Afraid?
You fall down at the man’s feet. “Get away from me,” you say, “Leave me alone—I’m not worthy! I’m not good enough! I can’t handle this much life!”
“Don’t be afraid,” he says. “Don’t be afraid. From now on, you’ll be gathering up people, you’ll be gathering up human life in all its fullness. You’ll need every skill you have, and every experience you’ve learned from, and a whole lot more besides—but don’t be afraid. I will be with you.”
His words wash over you like a wave. There’s comfort here, but also challenge. Perhaps you feel thrilled by the promise of adventure; perhaps you feel overwhelmed. You know you’ll need to leave things behind; but you can sense the fresh salt breeze of hope. And however you feel, you realise you can no other: slowly, slowly, you stand.
- What are you being asked to leave behind? What might this enable?
Together, you and this man gather in life; together, you bring it to safe harbour. You lay down your burdens and, with Jesus at your side, you take the next step on the Way. Ω
A meditation on Luke 5:1-11 offered to Sanctuary, 10 February 2019 © Alison Sampson, 2019. May be used freely in worship and similar non-commercial environs, appropriately attributed – but do drop us a line and let us know! Recommended songs: Gathering: When Jesus saw the fishermen, by Edith Agnew; or Sing Hey! for the carpenter, by John Bell. Response to meditation: Lord, you have come to the seashore, by Cesáreo Gabaráin. Image credit: Lalo on Unsplash.