I love to fish. There is something so peaceful about sitting with my rod, rocking in the boat, quiet, in the stillness of the morning and waiting. Perhaps it is because I fish for enjoyment and not for my livelihood. Today I read about a fishing expedition…..
Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened. Several of the disciples were there – Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed The Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples.
Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”
“We’ll come too, ” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.
At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?”
“No,” they replied.
Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.
(John 21:1-6, NLT)
There are times we can do so much and have nothing to show for it. Life can leave us feeling empty. Much the way the disciples fished all night and caught nothing, our activity can seem futile, in vain.
Or is it really?
I have gone back to this portion of Scripture for several days, feeling it pull me in deeper. And here is what I have discovered:
- Doing what we have always done, does not always yield the same results. These were fishermen by trade. Surely they knew how to fish and when to fish. They probably knew the best fishing spots. But their knowledge and ability did not mean they were always successful.
- God requires our obedience. I am not sure there would have been any difference from the left side of the boat to the right side. Yet Jesus required of them to haul their net in and throw it out on the right side of the boat. They could have laughed His request off. Their reply could have been “No!”. But in order to catch some fish, they had to obey.
- When the net is empty, He fills it. Jesus knew their nets were empty. He knew they wanted to have something to show for their night of work. And probably some breakfast to eat as well!
- Obedience will yield unexpected results. Jesus saw their need. He could have miraculously filled their nets. Yet He required their obedience. And when they did, the catch was immense. So large that they could not haul the nets in.
Obedience is hard. It demands a bending of our own will to His will. It requires us to trust His way to be better than our own. Elisabeth Elliot put it this way….
Here lies the tremendous mystery – that God should be all-powerful, yet refuse to coerce. He summons us to cooperation. We are honored in being given the opportunity to participate in his good deeds. Remember how He asked for help in performing his miracles: Fill the water pots, stretch out your hand, distribute the loaves.
Obedience. Easy to say. Hard to do. May He give me a heart willing to cooperate. And obey.