By Sarah Damm
“Put out into the deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish …” —Luke 5:4-6
Have you ever felt God nudging you in a certain direction? And it kind of catches you by surprise? You are going along in life—living out your vocation, fulfilling your career, striving to grow in your faith—but then you get this restless feeling that something needs to be added, improved, or strengthened. God wants to take you to deeper waters, and your response, like Simon’s is, “Lord, I am already doing so much. How can You ask me for more?” As you sit with God’s invitation for a while, you recognize that His nudge in a new and deeper direction is really what is best for you. But since change is hard, you drag your feet until it becomes too uncomfortable not to “do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5).
At the beginning of this New Year, I knew that I needed to take control of my health. Three diagnoses last year hit me really hard, and I felt discouraged and defeated. Life seemed so much harder than it needed to be, and I realized that I had to take the Serenity Prayer to heart:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
For quite some time, I was mudding the distinction between the things I could and could not change. Everything seemed to fall into the category of “things I cannot change.” But the reality was that there were things that I could change. I just needed to muster up the courage to reclaim the aspects of my health that I could do something about.
I knew that focusing on my health was going to take quite the effort, and I dragged my feet. “But Lord, I already work so hard. I am a wife and mom. I have tried this diet and that one, and I am still stuck. Plus, I am so busy with X, Y and Z.” Sounds a little like the first half of Simon’s response to Jesus, doesn’t it? The difference, though, was that I lacked the second half.
Out of love, the Holy Spirit kept nudging me toward this health goal. First, His nudges were gentle, like He was just planting seeds. I took note of the promptings, but I quickly moved onto something else. He even sent me messages from others, who encouraged me to take the time I needed to heal and restore my health. But something was preventing me from taking a step forward.
Finally, the Lord pleaded with me to “put out into the deep water” of my health. It was at that point that I realized that I couldn’t share my gifts or be the best version of myself, if I didn’t have enough strength and stamina to live out God’s will for my life. God deserved more; my family deserved more; and I deserved more, too.
So, I took the plunge! At Jesus’ command, I lowered my nets. I discerned what I could change—diet, activity level, sleep, stress reduction—and I made a plan. Since it is only the beginning of February, I am still at the very beginning of this plan, but it sure does feel good to be where God wants me to be.
There are a number of aspects of life that God might be inviting you to go deeper. Maybe, like me, it is your health. For others, it might be more prayer or Scripture study and less social media. Maybe there is a skill within your career that will help you be a better teacher, doctor, or office manager. Perhaps you feel prompted to spend more quality time with your spouse or be more patient with your children or a better steward of your budget.
Peter was already a good fisherman. It was his livelihood. But Jesus knew he could be better! “Jesus said to Simon, ‘do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.’” (Luke 5:10) The same is true for us. The Lord loves us just as we are, and He loves us too much to keep us there!
No matter where God is calling you to go deeper, here are two tips that can make a big difference (from Sterling Jaquith’s free Catholic Weight Loss Companion for Emotional Eaters):
1) Choose a Bible verse that will give you strength, stamina, and perseverance, during this time of going deeper. I am discovering many good ones. Here is a favorite:
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
2) Offer up your efforts for others. Write the name of the person on your calendar or in another prominent spot, so you can remember her throughout your day, while you’re lowering your nets.
As we anticipate Lent, beginning this Wednesday, what area of your life is God calling you to go deeper? Do not be afraid! Trust those promptings of the Holy Spirit and follow Him.