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Mending the Nets

by C.W. Cushman Rural Shepherds Network Founder and President

Back in 2002, I had been at a local ministerial association meeting in our area.  That day, our lunch meeting had been very special.  It was one of those wonderful times, when as we prayed together at the end of the meeting, God visited us in a really special way.  We were really stirred in our hearts as we prayed together for revival in our land.  Each of us as pastors had key things that we led out with in prayer, and there was a lot of calling out to the Lord, saying, “Please pour out your Spirit and bring revival!”

    As I drove home from the meeting in my car that day, I was on a section of the road that crosses through the middle of our valley.  My heart was still glowing with all that we had been praying.  Driving along, I thought of the three communities North of me.  I couldn’t see them, but I looked in their direction according to how the mountains set around our valley.  I thought of the towns to the West, East, and South of me.  I was continuing as I moved along, to ask God to pour out His Spirit upon our land, and bring the much needed revival.  It was one of those times when you just feel like He is just about to move!  I was excited!
    Now, I am not somebody that is given to visions.  It has only happened a couple of times during my lifetime.  But as I was crossing the valley floor, praying over our region, I suddenly saw spread in the sky, over the entire valley, from mountain range to mountain range, a net.  It was spread across the valley, but it was torn in many places.  There were loose strands hanging down, and big gaping holes all throughout the net!  And then I heard God say, “If I answered all of your prayers right now, and poured out My Spirit, and brought revival, most of the harvest would be lost.”  And as I took in that statement, He then said, “Mend the net.”
    As soon as I arrived home, I found a quiet spot, and began to look through the Scriptures for understanding on what I had just seen and heard.  First I found Mark 1:16-19, where Jesus calls four fishermen to be His disciples.

    It says, “And as He walked by the sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.  Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  Then in verse 19, it says, “When He had gone a little farther from there, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the boat mending their nets.

I was struck by the fact that two of the brothers were mending their nets, while the others had been out casting their net.  I realized this is a perfect picture of a great truth!  Sometimes in ministry we are so pre-occupied with how we are going to cast our net out and bring in the harvest, that we can completely forget that we need to commit just as much time to preparing and keeping our nets in proper repair.  Otherwise, we may be casting our nets, but the harvest will be just slipping away through the gaping holes in the net!

    As I prayed about this, more and more, it sunk deeply into my heart.  The broken places in the net that I had seen in the sky, represented both relationships that had never formed, and relationships that had been broken or not attended to for a long time.

    This account in Mark, is also found in Matthew 4:18-21, as well as Luke 5, where it brings in the fact that they had also been washing their nets.

The thought of the importance of mending, just kept stirring in my heart.  With further study, I discovered that there is only one other place in the New Testament where that word is used, and could be translated that way.  It is found in Ephesians 4:12, where it is translated equipping in many translations.

    In the gospels, we see not only the casting of nets, but the mending of those same nets being very important for effectively bringing in the harvest.  Now looking at Ephesians 4:12 we see this word, often translated equipping, could also be translated mending.  When we think of equipping, we think rightly so of training and giving the people we lead the tools they need for the work of the ministry.  But we can also see here, that there is another vital part of this preparing of the church.  Ephesians 4:12 could read that the leadership of the church was given “for the mending (fitting together) of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying (building up) of the body of Christ.”  So a key responsibility of all church leaders, is to make sure we are not neglecting the mending of relationships throughout the church.  We think of this, as we care for our own congregations.  We guard our churches, and nurture maturity in the body functioning together in a healthy way.  But it is just as vital to apply this to our own region.  This is not optional.  It isn’t something that we can say we don’t have time for.  We must not operate in pride.  We must understand that it isn’t just about our own ministry, but about loving and caring for the whole body, making sure that we’ve done our small but important part to strengthen and make the net ready for harvest.