5 simple ways to let down your nets
“Put out into the deep,” Jesus told a bemused Simon Peter in Sunday’s Gospel, “and let down your nets for a catch” (Luke 5.4).
Peter may not have known much, but he knew a thing or two about fishing. And after a fruitless night trying to snatch any of the slippery critters, the prospects of netting a few in the light of day seemed nil.
Jesus, of course, had other plans. And as the dingy started to sink from the weight of his catch, Peter may have had the thought, “When Jesus says ‘Let down your nets,’ I can probably just trust Him to take care of the rest.”
This story is a figure for Christian witness. Our Lord proceeded to inform Peter and company that from then on they’d be catching people instead of tilapia. The not-so-subtle message of the miracle is that our task as witnesses of the gospel is simply to “let down our nets”—make ourselves available for the Spirit’s work, vessels for the Word to exercise its power.
Here are 5 simple ways that you can let down your nets this week.
1. Hang out on the front porch.
Not everyone has a front porch, I grant, but if you do…use it! Summer is porch-sitting season. I’m amazed how many conversations I get into simply by sitting on my tookus out on the stoop. They don’t typically turn into gospel-sharing moments straight-away, mind you, but with the net down you never know what you’ll catch.
2. Learn the name of your usual barista/check-out clerk/gas station attendant.
I have those people in my day-to-day life that I see on a regular basis but who are strangers to me. You, too? If you don’t know someone’s name, you have about a 0.3% chance of developing any sort of relationship (that’s an unscientific estimate). If you know their name you probably won’t become BFFs, but you might make someone’s day.
3. Write a hand-written thank-you note.
I’m a huge advocate for those old-fashioned human kindnesses that our hyper digital world has mostly forgotten. Have you received a hand-written note lately? What a difference from an e-mail or, worse yet, a text message. Maybe you have a neighbor or co-worker who gets overlooked. Drop them a note—doesn’t have to be a tome, just a few sentences—and let them know you’ve taken notice.
4. Hold that small talk an extra beat.
I’ll confess: I’m not a big fan of small talk. I’d just as soon get right to the really weighty topics. But small talk serves a vital purpose in human interaction, and if allowed to percolate for a moment can turn in to something more. This week you’ll find yourself in a conversation with someone that seems to have potential to go a little deeper. Then you get that twinge that tells you, “Okay, time to move on.” When you feel the twinge, don’t take the conversational off-ramp. Let the talk linger a little bit and see if you don’t net something more.
5. Host a garage sale.
As the proud veteran of a recent garage sale, I can tell you that it’s a great feeling to have people give you money to get rid of stuff you need to get rid of anyway. Part of it is no doubt good old curiosity, folks on the block wanting to see what kind of stuff you’ve got laying about. Be that as it may, I was pleasantly surprised to see how it also became a chance to meet people from the neighborhood—and you have natural conversation starters right there.
The words of the hymn “Take My Life and Let It Be” (LSB 783) come to mind:
Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
May that be your prayer this week, as you let down your nets and let the Lord take care of the rest.