Trust Jesus' guidance
Let's engage our imaginations for just a moment …
You and a crew of folks – including Simon Peter – have been out fishing all night long, returning to shore the next morning with absolutely nothing to show for your time or labor. How do you feel as you get back to the shore? For one thing, you're exhausted and you already know your reward for a long night of unproductive fishing is a wrestling match with a heavy, wet net that must be rinsed and repaired. Every part of your body just wants to hang. Your feet cry for rest and elevation. Your mind is foggier than the clouds moving across the morning water. Can you feel it?
Oh, and you stink. Yeah, you're a fisherman. You stink. You smell like a mix of lake water and sweaty body odor and that fishy smell that transfers from the net to, well, anything and everything you touch – a stench that only got stronger each time you and the crew pulled the nets back out of the water. Can you smell it?
When you and the crew set out the night before, there was a steady chatter in the boat fueled by the energy that hope and purpose bring. But as the night drags on, fatigue sets in. The banter seems to wane proportionately to the passing of every hour, and as the deep of night comes on, there are now long stretches where hollow stares are met only with the rhythmic beat of the waves bumping up against the side of the boat. Can you hear it?
And hey, let's be honest – you're discouraged. This isn't the Bassmaster Classic. This is your job. To borrow from the wisdom of the well-worn teaching, "You don't catch fish, you don't eat." You've got a family to take care of, and if you come home empty handed, you've got to move to whatever Plan B you've drawn up to care of them that day.
But as you and the crew are washing the nets, someone hops up into the boat and asks Simon Peter to push him away from the shore so He can speak to the massive crowd that has gathered. It's Jesus. And when He finishes teaching, he turns to Simon and says, "Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch." (Luke 5:4)
"Master," Simon shoots back in gentle protest, "we've worked hard all night long and caught nothing. But if you say so …"
Now let's stop right there for a sec. You may have never been there, but you've been there, right? You don't have to be an ancient fisherman to know what it feels like to wear yourself out trying something and failing only to have someone else come along and say, "Hey, I bet you haven't tried to …?"
But this isn't just someone. It's Jesus, the Son of God, who is still teaching even in this moment.
If you've read Luke 5, you know the rest of the story. Simon Peter and Co. lower the nets back into the water and they begin to tear because of the massive volume of fish that have been gathered in. So many fish, by the way, that the boats are beginning to sink. Those who witnessed this happen were amazed … except Simon Peter.
He was broken.
"Go away from me, because I'm a sinful man, Lord!" he cries out from the ground, where in humility he has lowered himself below Jesus' knees.
Simon Peter had every right to doubt that his crew could haul in any fish. After all, they'd been out all night and pulled in nothing but sandals, sand and seaweed. In the words of Captain Ross from "A Few Good Men," "These are the facts, and they are undisputed." And on top of that, Simon Peter and the guys were exhausted and probably didn't feel like taking the chance of putting the nets in the water, running the risk of once again not catching fish ("See, I told you Jesus …") and having to re-wash and mend the nets before finally being able to get some rest. In other words, everything Simon Peter saw told him there was no chance.
The thing is, Simon Peter's self-declared sin was that he failed to remember that the one telling him to try anyway was Jesus Christ, who has authority over all things.
So what does all this mean for us? Let's just be blunt – many of us (including myself) are really good at being so sure about what we see that we fall into Simon Peter's trap – we're either so discouraged or tired that we don't want to try anymore, or we just refuse to believe beyond what we can see. The facts, as Peter saw them, were that there were no fish to be caught that day. The Lord said there were. Peter trusted Jesus, and a big enough spectacle happened that we are still talking about it 2,000 years later.
What are you seeing play out in your life right now that seems like a lost cause? Who seems too far gone, with no chance for redemption? What circumstance seems so hopeless, the mere thought of it brings a hot swirl of anger or anxiety or sadness to your mind? You may not be able to imagine what it would be like to be an ancient fisherman, but the hot, wet wool blanket of depression that has been covering you for months? Yeah, that's not so hard to imagine, is it?
We must remember that Jesus is Lord over all things, and nothing is impossible to Him – no matter what the cold, hard facts appear to be.
The question is, do you have enough faith to throw your net back into the water?
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