Pr. Jaynan Clark
April 20, 2013
It came about quite innocently and unsolicited as these divine invasions or wake up calls often do. Another on-line development meeting for the Institute for Lutheran Theology, same day, same time, same people, same agenda. Nothing out of the ordinary other than I finally had my computer back from the Geek Squad so could participate after a 2 week absences. Eric stated in a rather off-the–cuff manner that we are praying and planning for 150 new students this year. Knowing I had missed a couple of meetings I decided to listen rather than speak which is a miracle in and of itself. No further explanation, just a number and a stated goal which hung out there quite randomly for me the absentee. So I asked the question, “150? Why 150? Where did that number come from?” and before there could be any response I asked, “Why not 153?”
I didn’t plan to say that. I wasn’t being creative or clever, it just shot out of my mouth as easy as an expletive when one hammers their own finger or drives something up under a fingernail. Quick, unthought-of, and as it turns out appropriate, thought provoking, and even might I say “Godly.”
We live our lives out post-resurrection under the sign of the cross as the first disciples did. Floating on the water, having returned to their daily vocation of fishing, they were called upon by Jesus Himself. He already had “what” he needed, fish and bread cooking on the beach but he didn’t have “who” he wanted. The reality is that Jesus doesn’t need us to fish for Him but He wants us to, He calls us to do it so that we can be defined by the haul. The disciples, like us, had come up empty on their own. Experienced, trained fishermen without a catch; not a single fish in their large nets. Put in on the right side boys as the Master has suggested and see what you get from His hand. An act of obedience that was surely a bit irritating after fishing for some time with no results. But they did it and so did He. Jesus provided 153 smelly, slimy, thrashing about fishes. Enough to tax the strength of the net. Enough to baffle and amaze. Enough to give eyes sight and most importantly, ears sound.
ILT comes from a heritage of witness and perseverance in the face of opposition and seemingly zero results. ILT was born out of a voice in the wilderness witnessing to the One who is the Living Word of God and who doesn’t need us in order to be the authority over all of heaven and earth and under the earth but He does want us. He chose to endure suffering, pain, humiliation, abandonment, alienation, betrayal and forsakenness, and even death, just so He could have you and 152 others. Too specific? I think not. Read the Word, every story from beginning to end is brimming with details that apply to our daily lives now as they did then. We still live out our lives in a world groaning in travail surrounded by unfound sheep as the once lost, now found ones. We still are commanded to go and fish from the side of the boat that He determines on the roughest of seas going for the deadliest catch of all. We are still carried on His shoulders to the edge of the cliff and the thicket to rescue the one lost sheep. We are still handed a cross as our carry-on and given no indication that we are the leaders but rather followers.
We are still the “wanted ones” sent out to teach, preach, baptize and make disciples... not because we need to grow a seminary or expand a church or meet a budgeted bottom line but just because the feast is already cooked and ready on shore but there are at least 153 catchables still out there that He has instructed us to haul in. Plan for 153. Why? It seems to be according to a much more specific, detailed, divine itinerary that we couldn’t possibly envision or execute on our own. Come Lord Jesus!