Fishing On The Other Side of The Boat

It's Holy Week, which reminds me of an experience I had in church a number of years ago.  Settling into the pew, I looked up at the pulpit and saw that rather than our regular pastor, who was once hailed in USA Today as one of the Top 10 Sermon Givers in the country, stood a fellow parishioner who could have been voted most likely to be called "Milk-toast".  Needless to say I was not looking forward to what I could only imagine was going to be a bland, boring and timid message. Pulling out a pen and paper I decided to at least be productive while he droned on, and started a robust to-do list.  And then I got the nudge.  You know, that sacred inner voice?  It said, "put the pen down and listen up.  Now!" 

Mr. Milk Toast proceeded to kick my judgemental ass right off my smug little pedestal. He recounted the familiar story of a few of the disciples who went out to catch some fish. Theywere fishermen with lots of experience, and so loaded themselves and their nets into a boat and headed out. All night long they cast their nets off to the left side of the boat, and every time, the nets came up empty.  Exhausted at morning light, they were about to give up, when their Friend appeared on the shore.  He yelled at them to cast their nets off to the right side of the boat, the opposite of what they had done over and over and over.  I'm sure they thought it couldn't make any difference.  It was all the same water.  But, they gave it a go anyway....cast their nets off the opposite side of their boat.  The nets filled with so many fish they could barely haul it in. 

Same boat. 

Same fishermen. 

Same nets. 

Different side of the boat.  

Since most of us don't fish for a living, what does it mean to fish on the other side of our own boats? Ever since hearing that sermon, when I find myself stuck in a rut, heading for my familiar go-to reaction or beating the same drum only louder, I try to stop and ask myself: At this moment, in this place, in this situation, what would it mean for me to fish on the other side of my boat? And then I try, to the best of my ability, to do it. And then I usually catch some fish. And then I eat some humble pie for having been so stubborn about doing things my way... except that the humble pie tastes a lot like milk toast.