Jesus, In Brokenness and Bullets, Closer than We Realize

Peter, ever the impulsive leader of the disciples, says he is going fishing, days after the drama of Jesus death and resurrection. Six other of Jesus’ disciples, now bound by unspeakable shared experiences, decide to go too. It’s a dark night, and they don’t catch one fish. Our pastor, Ken Miller shared this story with us last Sunday. It is one of my favorite stories, and not just when I’m struggling.

This week, I’ve been longing for that sunrise, when all our imperfections and anxieties will be past. Last Saturday, two gunmen passed down our street shooting, about 10 minutes after Marnell took out the trash. (The gunmen seemed to have targeted vehicles and no one was hurt.) Then too, my own internal battles with spiritual bullets, which can be just as frightening and more desolate.

As I think of the story on the Sea of Galilee, I wish I knew. As the night wore on, did Peter and the other disciples also long for the presence of the Lamb of God, their long-time Friend?

Then, as the sun rises, a man walks up on the shore. And here’s an amazing thing. Peter does not recognize him. The man asks if they caught any fish. They say, No. He tells them to throw the net into the water on the other side. They do. The net is suddenly bulging, threatening to swamp the boat. There are 306 dark fish eyes and 153 squirming fish bodies. A miracle.

And still, Peter does not seem to know that the man on the shore is Jesus.

John has to say, “It is the Lord!” before Peter plunges into the water full of joy, to swim/splash the 100 yards to shore.

Now, how could Peter, who dedicated his life to Jesus after a similar fish miracle just 3 years earlier, not have recognized Jesus at once, even before the fish arrived?

I don’t know. But Ken shared something that touched me deeply.

“There were many people who didn’t recognize Jesus right away,” Ken said. “Mary at the tomb. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Peter and the disciples in the boat. This makes me think that Jesus is often closer than we realize. He is often with us when we don’t know it.”

What an amazing thought!

Sunday afternoon after the service, I dug out my old folder with the poetry I wrote years ago and found this.


“Cast on the other side,” He said,

When the long night turned to day.

When they obeyed, that one command

Swept all their gloom away.

More fish than they had ever

Imagined could be caught

Were squirming in that shocking net

The useless night was naught,

Beside this grand and glorious catch

That stories couldn’t beat.

They dragged the hundred fifty-three

To shore, and sat to eat.

Which tells me that however big

The weight that drags me down,

One word from Christ (if I obey)

Can turn the thing around.

If I just drop the empty net

And wait for his command,

I soon will have a bigger load

Than I can pull to land.

Katrina Hoover, 1990’s?

There’s probably a good reason I quit writing poetry! But my words remind me of the truth – nothing is too big for Jesus. Not a night without fish. Not a week without progress.

Oh, I wish I could have been there on that shore! What would it have been like to meet Jesus in person? To ask questions? To eat breakfast on the shore? To witness yet another miracle?

But, perhaps what Jesus came for was to make it possible for us to endure with joy day by day here, to thrive in the midst of brokenness and bullets. Even the disciples. Although the disciples recorded these moments of joy, they also had many dark nights, both before and after that glorious breakfast. Perhaps, years after that breakfast, they had moments where they wanted to doubt their faith. But they could look back on God’s love and faithfulness, even as we can.

And some day we will see Him face to face!

And perhaps in the meantime, as Ken said, Jesus is closer than we realize. Perhaps it is not so much that He isn’t here with me as I weep, but that I, like Peter, don’t have the right frame of mind to recognize his presence.

18 thoughts on “Jesus, In Brokenness and Bullets, Closer than We Realize”

  1. Just curious where you got the “153”? Why stop there (if indeed scripture does not tell us)? Jesus fills to overflowing!! : )

      1. Hubby just told me that! Always thought I was a “detail person”, but somehow I missed that detail! Or since we are speaking of fish, would that be de-tail??!

    1. Louisa Friesen Miller

      I grew up singing this number as an additional verse in the children’s song “Peter, James, and John”: “///One hundred fifty three great big fishes///…Out on the deep, blue sea.” 😂😂😂

  2. Indeed I believe that Jesus is with us “in the midst of brokenness and bullets.” At times I have gone a-writing, and all of my efforts fail. But this reminds me that without Christ I can do nothing. The tough times help me to long for heaven, to trust in Him for everything, to listen for His call at morning’s light.

    Beautiful song, beautiful post–thank you so much for this inspiration, Katrina!

  3. I may be wrong, but sometimes I think God comes so close as the person that brings me the encouragement I needed so desperately at the moment ? I’d love to think Jesus is so real in my friends’ lives, that they are Jesus with (fallible) skin on. Am I that person to others?

  4. The part of that story that has stood out to me was, “and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken”. What that spoke to me was if Jesus is with us we will not break either. We might go through some very tough times, but Jesus will see us through.

  5. I’m sorry about the scary experience much too near you. Sometimes it’s so hard to see that God is still in control of this broken and battered world. But then next time His greatness is right next to our smallness and we can just see His care.

  6. I think you should write poetry again! I loved that poem, it’s one I can easily relate to and understand! Many modern poetry today seems too unorganized to be poetry but then that’s why I’m not one obviously. But you can write one anytime!

  7. What a wonderful thought to keep in mind.

    I love the poem. I agree with Lori (above) that you should be writing more.

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