When the nets are empty

On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:1-11)

There is a lot going on in this story. You could have a series of sermons just out of this one passage. However, there is a thought that occurred to me in this story that had not in the past. Pay attention to Peter after Jesus tells him to go back out and try fishing again “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing!” Peter is telling Jesus that they are tired. They have worked so hard for so long, and have nothing to show for it. We aren’t just physically tired, but our morale has been beaten down as well.

I bet we have all felt like that sometimes. We may feel God prodding us to do something, but we feel like we have been in such a rut with so little success. Even things as simple as going to church and joyfully worshipping God seem like an impossible task. We would much rather just give in, and take a break. Have you ever wondered why Peter and the rest of the crew went ahead and did what Jesus said? They clearly did not want to go back out there. Their morale was shot. What made them go back out? Was it something Jesus said in his teaching earlier? Was it the way Jesus told them to go out? Was it curiosity? We do not know what was going on in Peter’s head. All we know is that he went back out despite the failures of the day.

The result was a tremendous blessing. Not only did they catch fish, but they caught more than they could have ever dreamed. Not only did they catch more fish than they could have ever dreamed, but they saw what Jesus was capable of. Not only did they see what Jesus was capable of, but they got to follow him while learning how to be fishers of men.

This makes me wonder what I might be missing out on when I choose to give up after a rough day of failure. What experiences am I limiting myself when I become affected by the negative morale? There may be some day s where I don’t feel like reading God’s word, but what if I tried anyway and God rejuvenated me in ways I wasn’t expecting?

We cannot let the failures of our attempts affect our desire to follow Christ. We need to be willing to see God work. What if Peter had chosen not to go back out? Think of what he would have missed out on. Sometimes God chooses the most unexpected times to perform something grand. Sometimes we need to force ourselves to push forward because what we need is just a little further down the road. I really do not think Peter was expecting anything miraculous to happen. My guess is he threw the net back into the water wondering why in the world he was still trying this.

Maybe you have had a dry spell in your quiet times. Maybe you have gone through a string of Sundays where worship feels distant. I urge you to press on because you never know when God is preparing to fill up your net. I think Peter would want you to press forward as well.

-Fletcher

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