Leslie Leyland Fields is a multi-faceted, precious jewel—brilliant, wise, accomplished, humble, and generous. She has been part of her family’s Alaskan commercial salmon fishing operation for decades on the edge of a continent. For the past four years, she has welcomed writers to her Alaskan wilderness fish camp each summer, teaching how to create beauty with words and encouraging all. She fillets wild salmon pulled from the surf each day and serves it to her guests as gift. Mostly, I love Leslie because she has become a dear soul sister and prayer partner over these past four years. I’m thrilled to offer you, my reading friends, an excerpt from her newly released tenth book, Crossing the Waters–Following Jesus through the Storms, the Fish, the Doubt, and the Seas––a book that has moved me closer to the heart of Jesus than anything I’ve read in a good long time. Consider this piece a scrumptious hors d’oeuvre offering us the selfless love of God. How can we turn away from such a Great Love? Imagine what we would become if we embraced such a Great Love, and shared this Great Love with the world, starting right where we are, no matter how we are, right now.
Now, Leslie . . .
Do you see them out there, laboring all night, with the lights blazing and the two boats coordinating the nets, and haul after haul—nothing? Not a single fish to sell or cook for their own breakfast? They remember the only other night in their life when this happened—that night three years ago, when it all started. They all think of it, but no one says the words aloud. And just before morning breaks, just before they give up, a man calls to them from shore (can it be?). They do what He says (nets dropped on the other side—again?), and in one impossible moment their nets are full of the biggest fish they’ve ever seen on this sea. Don’t they know this pattern—a man speaks and out of nothing, out of dearth and failure explodes this crazy unending abundance? Peter sees Him now. He throws on his clothes and leaps into the sea. This time he thrashes toward the Lord instead of begging Him to leave. He knows he’ll never run away again.
They’re around the fire now. This is the third time He’s come to them, but they cannot speak. They watched Him die, and they, His closest friends, did nothing to stop it. Now He’s alive, He’s filled their nets again, and He’s cooking them breakfast? He’s feeding them again? They deserve nothing.
Especially Peter. But here it comes anyway.
Simon, do you love Me more than these?
Simon looks at the sea, the boats, his best friends still around the fire, the fish waiting to be sold. He does love all of these. But he knows instantly what he loves more: Lord, you know that I love you.
He asks again, Do you love Me?
He does not ask, “Will you ever turn from me again?” He does not ask, “Will you ever make a mistake again?”
His question is for me as well, because I was there too that night.
Do you love Me?
But He asks already knowing the answer, because He does, He knows Peter’s mind and heart already. He knows our hearts already. He asks one last time, Do you love Me?
How can Peter not?
How can I not?
Simon Peter and I and all the disciples know now the extent of His love. We have thought too long it’s all on us to follow behind as He forges ahead, but when He said “Come, follow after Me” it also meant that He would come after us. We ditch Him, run the other way, and still He comes. He walks through a storm in the dead of night to reach us. He went under the waters of sin and death, then comes bringing breakfast and a whole new life just when we had given up hope in Him—and in ourselves. How can we turn away from that love?
(Excerpt from Crossing the Waters: Following Jesus through The Storms, the Fish, the Doubt and the Seas NavPress, October 2016)
Learn more of Leslie and her wildly beautiful Alaskan island here.