On the shores of Galilee you could always find fishermen readying their nets to launch out into the water or bringing in their catch to sort out what God had provided. These men weathered by years on the sea and tanned until their skin became leathery understood the wind and the waves, their unpredictability and risks. And so it was here that Jesus would call his first disciples from this lot of fishermen.
Most of us understand little about what it means to be this kind of fisherman. If we fish at all, it is usually for pleasure or a vacation adventure.
But there are some who still understand what it means to be fishermen who rely on the water to provide their living, who mend the nets to assure no fish are lost, and who study the wind and know the measure of its fury as well as its calm.
Leslie Leyland Fields and her family are just those sorts of fishermen living the life of commercial fishing on an island near Kodiak, Alaska. It is this rich knowledge and understanding Leslie brings to her new book, Crossing the Waters, that takes the reader offshore into the turbulent seas off the Alaskan coast and across the waters of the Sea of Galilee beside the ragtag fishermen we know as the disciples who were called to be fishers of men.
The life of fishermen is never easy. They are held hostage to the whims of the weather, the reliability of their boats, the sturdiness of their nets, and the provision of God for their safety and provision. It is a way of life that is passed down from one generation to the next with each generation counting on the next to learn the skills and provide for the family. It is often dangerous, no trip on the water is ever the same.
As Leslie says, “If we don’t understand where we are, the dangers and realities of the place we are living, if we are not awake to the water and the sky around us, we will miss living well. We might even die.”
Leslie wanted to experience more of the waters half a world away where Jesus had walked and the disciples had lived such a life along the Jordan River and Sea of Galilee. And so, she traveled there to hike, meet those who still know those waters, and get as close as she could to Peter and the other fishermen Jesus had first called away from their lives as fishermen to learn about another kind of fishing. In this book, she takes us along on her journey and we come to know the hardship of the life of fishermen in Alaska as well as those on the Sea of Galilee. We also gain a completely different perspective on what it meant to leave this way of life that had been handed down from generations before them that their fathers were counting on them to continue when Jesus first said, “Come, follow me” and they left their nets.
At one stop at a church in Tiberias on the shore of Galilee, she meets a priest and asks him, “Why do you think Jesus chose so many fishermen?”
“He thinks for just a moment. ‘Because they were used to depending entirely upon the providence of God. Not like farmers, who can calculate everything. But fishermen cannot control the sea. They never know if they will catch a lot, or anything. Fishermen must depend on God, as we do. They already knew how to do this.”
It is just such stories that provide the gift of deeper understandings of the New Testament stories we think we know, but likely do not fully appreciate unless we see them through the eyes of a fisherman.
Crossing the Waters provides a rich feast of discovery in Leslie Leyland Fields new book. It also provides a study guide for one person or a small group to delve deeper into the water for what gems are hidden there.
To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.