About once a month I meet up with someone to talk about my soul. That might sound odd, or pointless or scary (and it might be at times) but it also helps me to pay attention to what is going on beneath the surface of my life.
Take, for example, the last time. Beth asked if I’d mind imagining myself in a Bible story. I was up for this. So I closed my eyes and tried to slow myself down and be as present as I could be in the room. The Bible story was familiar (Luke 5), but, because I was really paying attention and trying to put myself in the scene, I saw things in it that I had never noticed before.
…So, I am standing on the shore of a big lake, surrounded by rolling hills. The sun is shining. I am quite near to Jesus, who is getting a bit crowded by the people who are trying to get near him to hear what he’s saying. In a surprise move, he asks a nearby fisherman (the one person there who is too busy to be paying much attention to Jesus) if he can get in his boat.
I feel a bit relieved for Jesus to be getting away from all those people. But he doesn’t go far. In fact he gets the fisherman to row him only a little way out and he continues to speak to the people, his voice carrying over the water, like a first century microphone. The fisherman can’t do much except listen to what Jesus is saying and look curiously back at the crowds.
Then Jesus asks the fisherman to row out to deep water. You can almost hear the sigh in the fisherman’s answer. What? I’ve been out there all night and I’d only just finished sorting out my nets when you asked me to take you out in this boat, for heaven’s sake.
But something about what he’s observed and heard makes the fisherman go along with it. And they throw over the nets and get the catch of a lifetime. He’s shouting and laughing and crying and it’s so loud that we can all hear it on the shore. It’s so much that he can’t cope with it all and he has to get some of the other guys to row out and help with the load.
The fisherman gets a bit overwhelmed at this point. Don’t come near me, Jesus, I’m not worth all of this, he says. He feels how he is the focus of all that blessing and it makes him uncomfortable.
There’s no reason to be afraid, says Jesus.
That was your best work day ever, says Jesus, when they get in to shore, but I’ve got better things in store for you. And he does.
Here’s what I saw in that story that I didn’t see before. There are loads of people around but Jesus takes particular interest in one. And he isn’t the most obvious one. Also, Jesus leads him by tiny little steps. First he asks the fisherman for a favour. Then he gets him to look at all the people from his perspective for a bit. Only then does he suggest the deep water and all the blessing that brings. After that overwhelming experience, the fisherman is ready is ready for the whole adventure.
So am I.