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5 Epiphany - Luke 5:1-11

A friend of mine asked me if I had any advice for someone considering going to seminary to become a pastor.

"Yes," I said, "run screaming the other direction."

"That's exactly what you said to me twenty years ago," he reminded me.

"Keep running," I said.

"If God is truly calling you to be a pastor, God will chase you down and you'll know, and you'll be a great one."

"That's also what you said to me twenty years ago."

Why would I say such a thing?

One of my responsibilities in my letter of call from you is "to encourage persons to prepare for the ministry of the Gospel."


There are plenty of other letter of call provisions at which I'm also failing, being a man of unclean lips ... unfit to be called an apostle ... I am a sinful man.

But you know this already, and I thank you for showing me far more grace than I deserve.

You probably also know why I advised my friend to resist: God's call is not only reliably irresistible, it usually operates between unreasonable and impossible.

God sends people into the deep water.

In my twenty-fifth year of this, I'm still in way over my skis.

But that's not just ministry—that's teaching, that's front line health care, that's politics, that's relationships, that's navigating a pandemic with no roadmap, that's life.

Even our greatest achievements—the massive temples we successfully build—are too tiny to

hold the hemline of God's bathrobe.

When we realize that we are in the presence of God—because we always are, but we cannot bear the weight of awareness of it very long—we are utterly overwhelmed.

Glory and grace decimate us.

What we see as so big and important—our egos, our worries, our successes, our fears, our plans, our problems, our idols—become laughably puny when we stand in the temple with Isaiah, in the boat with Simon, or in the sand beside the vast ocean that is swallowed like a raindrop by the sky.

Going to work for God begins with a withering humility, then gets worse.

Simon and his friends worked all night, and now they are washing their nets, which is to say both cleaning and repairing them, scrubbing, mending, retying them—arduous work after a long night of wasted effort.

Let down your nets for a catch, Jesus says like a clueless idiot, with no regard or appreciation wha