This post is written by Katie Orr as a companion for Unit 21, Session 3 of The Gospel Project for Adults, Volume 7: From Heaven to Earth (Spring 2023).
My freshman year in college, I attended a weekly women’s small group. It was the first time I experienced meaningful Bible study. Honestly, it was everyone else in the group who did all the study. I was the one who forgot every single week to complete the work until a few hours before it was time to meet. Even so, I gained so much just by showing up and seeing those young women treasure the Word of God. They attended small group, week after week, carrying their completed study work and their big, well-loved Bibles stuffed with scribbles and sermon notes.
As the group discussion went on each week, I mostly listened. I was fascinated by the way they treasured their time in the Bible. They talked about their time with Jesus like they had just had a conversation over coffee with Him. That small group experience changed me. I don’t remember what we studied, and I can’t remember a single fact I learned. What was transformational for me was seeing these eager young women—girls my age—faithfully walk with God as they studied and applied the Bible to their lives. It wasn’t just about learning and doing, it was about responding and relating to God. I wanted that. This kick-started a season of profound spiritual growth in my life. It was a pivot point and the beginning of better understanding who God is and what it meant to live in my God-given mission field.
There are moments and seasons in life that transform us—times when what we witness propels us to action. Sometimes, like in my case, it is the faithful example of others. Other times it is through a miraculous work of God. Peter had such a moment. In Luke 5:1-11, we see the story of when Jesus shook up Peter’s view of Him.
After a long night of fishing, the seasoned fisherman called off the search. There were no fish to be found. But then Jesus arrived on the scene and told Peter to go back out and put down his nets—the ones they were already in the process of cleaning and putting away. Jesus (the carpenter) told Peter (the fisherman) how to do his job. Referring to Jesus as Master, a term of respect, Peter did what Jesus told him to do. But it was not done in expectation of catching any fish.
To his surprise, Peter experienced the catch of a lifetime. The schools of fish, which previously had nothing to do with Peter’s nets, suddenly were caught up in those nets and a second boat had to be brought in to gather the abundance. The scene was such that in response, humble repentance and awe-filled worship overcame Peter. The formerly skeptical fisherman, who now called Jesus, “Lord,” left those nets and boats behind to follow a new vocation. No longer would he spend his days catching fish. Peter was off to catch people.
It is in these places—whether it be on a dorm room floor or in a stinky fishing boat—where we encounter God in new ways. He goes from someone we respect to someone we follow, a religious taskmaster to a beloved companion. And when we get a deeper glance at who God is, this clarity demands a response: obedience to His call. How will we respond to what we’ve encountered? Will the trajectory of our lives change? Or will we carry on as if nothing happened?
Following God is about living a life of pursuing Jesus and joining in His mission to save souls. To Peter, Jesus referred to this mission as fishing for men. Later He called it making disciples. As followers of Jesus, we are on this earth for a purpose. The end goal of our salvation is not our salvation. God saved us not solely for our own sake. Jesus has commissioned us to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18-20), and we can assume that if we remain here, it is because there is work yet to do. We are to be actively fishing, eagerly looking for lost souls in the seas of humanity, and then giving them an opportunity to encounter Christ and choose life. As long as we have breath in our lungs, we have this calling to follow Jesus in His mission to rescue people. So let’s get busy. There are souls yet to catch.
Katie Orr is the author of Secrets of the Happy Soul, seven FOCUSed15 Bible studies, and is the creator of the Bible Study Hub community, where women can receive training, encouragement, and accountability to enjoy God’s Word. Katie holds an MA in Discipleship from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. She and her husband, Chris, along with their three children, live in central Florida.