Over the past two years, my friends and I have helplessly watched one of our own beaten and tortured by the ravages of melanoma. A young woman with two very young children she has been too ill to enjoy. A wife to a devoted husband who vowed to stand by through sickness and health. A daughter who, just four years ago, lost her own mother to cervical cancer. A sister, the only sibling, of another young woman who is suddenly bearing a burden too large for her shoulders alone.
When Jesus called Peter and Andrew, and thereby all believers, to be “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:18-20), I get the feeling He didn’t mean fly fishing, for us to wade into a quiet stream, cast our line thoughtfully to and fro, then wait for a bite. Jesus called us to cast our nets wide and draw others unto ourselves. To cast wide the love of God, bringing the masses into the embrace of the family of Christ. After He was raised from the dead, Jesus found the disciples fishing again, but without much luck. He instructed them where to cast their nets. When they obeyed His command, their faithfulness rewarded them a bounty too full to lift. (John 21:1-6)
Nets. We are to use nets. Cast thoughtful and faithfully where God leads.
Mareeka has suffered countless surgeries, though I’m sure she could tell you the exact number. How many hospital bracelets she has worn, how many books she has read to “take her mind off of things,” how many times she has said goodbye to her daughter and son. But she doesn’t. She doesn’t recount the horrors. Every time she shares her heart, there is no doubt how firmly her rock-solid faith is anchored. She stands strong, knowing and proclaiming that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
Shortly after she was placed in hospice care, Mareeka posted on her blog, “I don’t understand how it all works, but I won’t question or diminish the Word of God just because I can’t figure it out. Neither will I give God any less power or grace just because I haven’t seen it, yet.”
Every time she opens her heart, she casts her net wide, wider, wide open! In her solid faith, Mareeka has valiantly fought death and in her fight, she has cast God’s love wide among the nations. My sisters, my friends, my Bible study group, they don’t know Mareeka personally. They didn’t meet her as a wide-eyed high schooler visiting her sister at college. They didn’t sit in her dorm room, listening to her talk expectantly about her nursing courses. They don’t carry guilt for having lined up with her on the beach, soaking up the sun’s dangerous rays. My friends, and hundreds like them around the world, don’t know Mareeka, but they know Mareeka’s God.
Come hell or high water, Mareeka’s God is by her side and she will never forsake Him. Mareeka has been faithful to take Him at His word. She cast out her net, she shared the living, breathing Word of God, she spread His truth in this world.
Mareeka, in your faithfulness you have cast wide the net of Love and drawn countless into the embrace of Jesus. Keep the faith. You ARE God’s favorite kid and He WILL complete a great work in you and through you. Thank you for every little thing you have taught me.
Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.