Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: BEACH (12/05/19)
TITLE: Early One Morning
By Marilyn Borga
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He could make out the shore in the increasing light. A man stood on the beach and called out, "Cast your net on the right side of the boat!"
What did this stranger know of fishing? He, Peter, had been a fisherman since he was a mere boy! But the others were stirring now, and those who had heard the command arose and cast the net as they were told.
Immediately they began shouting. Peter joined the fray as the men, muscles straining, struggled with the bulging net. It proved impossible to lift; instead, they secured it to the boat. They would drag it to shore.
Suddenly John whispered in awe, "It is the Lord!"
Peter, on impulse, donned his outer robe and splashed into the shallow water. He must see for himself! As he staggered onto the sand, he saw the man tending a small charcoal fire; some fish already sizzled on the coals. He recognized the nail-scarred hands even as the man looked up.
As the boat neared shore, Peter helped the others pull and wrestle the cumbersome net onto dry land. Some of the men scattered to fetch the vessels of salt needed to preserve the catch and the baskets they would use to haul the fish to market. The rest sorted the good fish from the flotsam, counting with mounting excitement to one hundred and fifty-three. At Jesus' request, Peter carried a large flopping fish to add to the breakfast that was awaiting the men.
And Jesus fed them.
Later, after everyone else had gone, Peter remained on the beach, musing over what had transpired. Yesterday, his intent had been to go back to his vocation as a fisherman. This morning, Jesus had made it clear that it wasn't to be.
"It will be as before, then?" Peter had asked.
"I will be with you always," Jesus had assured him. "But it will not be as before." Then he had touched his hand to Peter's chest. "I will be with you here, in your heart."
Now Peter gazed at the sun-drenched azure waves and the single-sailed fishing boat bobbing offshore. That life, the life of a fisherman, had been his pride and security as long as he could remember; his very identity had come from that work. The pervasive smell of fish was as natural to him as the sun on his face and the mew of the gulls that followed the boats.
He turned back to face the beach, memorizing the scene that, early this morning, had framed a turning point in his life. He drank in the sight of the pebble-strewn sand, the clumps of seaweed, and the still-glowing embers from the breakfast fire. He watched as two seagulls squabbled over a discarded fish carcass and he saw the empty net outstretched to dry in the sun.
Then he remembered that day over three years ago when he and his brother Andrew had first met Jesus. They had been near this very spot, casting their net into the sea. He had said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."
So they had joined the ragamuffin group that became known as the Lord's Disciples. They had witnessed countless wonders and miracles. Peter had experienced abundant joy, and humiliation also, while following this man whom he now knew to be the Messiah. When he had been crucified, they thought all had been lost. But they had been wrong…
Peter tugged at the end of his beard as he recalled this morning on the beach. Three times Jesus had asked Peter if he loved him and, adamant as always, Peter had assured him that he did. Then Jesus had made it clear what must be done.
Peter lifted his eyes to the nearby village. Without looking back, he set off running. His life on a fishing boat, the long hours of back-breaking labor, the harrowing storms, that life was behind him. Fishing for men would not be easy, but he was ready, even to die, to serve his Savior.
(Fiction inspired by John 21: 1-19.)
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