"While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. Matthew 4:18-22 ESV
I have read this story many times but never put much thought as to why Jesus choose fishermen for his closest disciples. Besides being able to make the catchy analogy of making them "fishers of men" the fishermen aspect of this story did not hold much significance to me. But Crossing The Waters by Leslie Leyland Fields, makes it clear that to real life actually fisherman, there is significant meaning behind Jesus call to these men.
When Jesus called Peter and Andrew to leave their nets and follow him, that means something to fisherman. It means dropping their tools, their training, their future. It means dropping their hopes, dreams, and the chance of a successful family business. It means dropping their responsibilities, family expectations, their occupation. It's much more than dropping an object, they are dropping all that they know, their family lineage. When Jesus called to James and John to leave their mending to follow him, that means something to a fisherman. It means they are leaving their tools non-functioning. It means they are leaving the work for their father to do. It means all the work and effort put into setting the nets maybe useless if the fish can just pass through. It means a successful catch could be lost if the nets rip and fail. It's much more than walking away from mending, it means leaving holes in more places than one.
Leslie Leyland Fields is a fishermen. A real fishermen catching real fish in the real waters of Alaska. In her book Crossing The Waters she gracefully leads us through an entire fishing season with her husband and children on the vast Alaskan waters. Leslie captures all the nuances of fishing life, but more importantly exposes us to a fishermen's perspective on what it means to be connected to the water and the lure of of the catch. She sheds light onto what it means to cast your nets everyday and what it would mean to leave the water and those nets behind. As fascinating as it is to be invited into this fishing world, the real catch in this books is how she continues to bring us back to Jesus' call to these first century fishermen. Each time we return to these men, we gain a deeper understanding of what it means for fishermen to encounter Jesus. What it means for a fishermen to feed fish to thousands of hungry people. What it means for a fishermen to be on a raging sea, in a sinking boat, and fearing for your life. What it means for a fishermen to witness the wind and the water they are so use to obey a mans mere words. We learn what it means for fishermen to have empty nets suddenly filled with abundance. In Crossing The Waters we gain a deeper understanding of what it means for a fishermen to drop their nets and leave their mending to follow him.
Leslie has a way of writing that takes us from spectators on the shoreline, to standing in the skiff with the wet spray of the ocean in our face and the smell of fish in the air. Crossing The Water does an excellent job of teaching and enlightening, while still telling a story and providing an enjoyable read. I enjoyed the deeper understandings of the call to "follow me" to these men, these fishermen, while also having the enjoyment of just learning about various aspects of the fishing profession and life as a fishing family. Crossing The Water is a book that you will find yourself recommending to others with an assurance of a positive experience.
Now when I hear Jesus call to these fisherman "follow me", I will no longer hear these words with passing indifference. I will remember that to a fishermen, that means something.
I received Crossing The Waters as a compliment of Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation aside from a free copy of this book for my review in the opinions are strictly my own.
I love everything about books. The feel of the page between your fingers, the sound of a book spine cracking, even the smell of an old dust jacket. Looking to share that passion with others.