Two boats lie at the water’s edge, abandoned by fishermen who are cleaning their nets.
Further down the beach a crowd listens to the Preacher. The fishermen have removed themselves from this joyous commotion. They’re exhausted and frustrated, they’re not listening to the Word of God. Instead, they silently scrub off last night’s failure from their empty nets. All through the night they laboured, only to catch nothing. The Preacher notices the boats. Can He sense their owners’ bitter disappointment? He leaves the crowd and walks down the beach towards the fishermen.
“Go out to where it’s deeper,” Jesus says. “Let your nets down to catch some fish.”
“We worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing,” Simon protests. “But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.”
Go out deeper
When we stand on a shore of disappointment and have removed ourselves from the crowds passionately listening to God’s Word, when we’ve laboured through the long night and our efforts have come to nothing, when we’re cleaning our empty nets with hot frustration because we’ve failed, that’s when God shows up. Even when we ignore Him, He can’t ignore us.
Jesus leaves the crowd. He comes alongside us, stands in front of our boat, and speaks just to us.
He sees we’ve wrestled with the night; our pride has been crushed, our strength depleted. So, He says to go deeper, to throw the nets we’ve just cleaned back into the sea, and try again.
Like Simon the fisherman, we want to protest. Doesn’t He know how hard life’s been?
We tell Him we’ve already spent hours casting out into the ocean of unfulfilled promises, only to come up empty. Time and time again. We don’t want to be reminded of our failures, our screw-ups, and our inadequacies. But we’re weary. Sometimes, when all options have been exhausted, it’s easier to obey. We have nothing more to lose.
Jesus steps into our boat and tells us to give it one more try: this life with Him.
We push the boat out of the shallows and jump in.
Cast out again
When we’re alone with Him, floating on deep water, He assures us He’s overcome every failure, every mistake, every disappointment, and everything that makes us feel not good enough for Him.
All our mess meets its end in Him, and all His beauty finds its home in us. Our failures become His victories. What we couldn’t accomplish out of our own strength and skill, He will accomplish through us.
Sometimes God needs us to try first and fail, so we won’t be left thinking we deserve the honour, reward and praise when we do succeed. When pride is beaten, we know that nothing is possible except through Christ. Because we caught nothing through our own efforts, God will use our boats to bring home a catch so great our nets will tear with His goodness.
We may have toiled through a cold and lonely night, and have nothing to show for it, but now we have Jesus in our boat. This changes everything. We dare to throw our nets into the ocean of God’s promises one last time. The impossible happens. We haul in so much we fear we may sink into the depths of grace. We know how uninhabited these waters were without God’s love at our helm. We can’t take credit for this miracle.
Through this display of His holiness, our sins are exposed. We were full of bitter frustration. We didn’t believe Him. At times we didn’t even want Him. Now we’re wrecked in repentance. He knows this, yet still He wants us. He sees all, yet He won’t forsake us.
This time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! … Soon both boats were on the verge of sinking. When Simon Peter realised what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me — I’m such a sinful man.” For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught.
Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!
As soon as they landed they left everything and followed Jesus.
(Luke Chapter 5, Verses 6-11)
Don’t be afraid. God knows the plans He has for your life even when you don’t. You may have been fishing aimlessly and coming up empty, but Jesus will climb into your boat and direct you to the deep waters of His purpose. He will fill your nets with God’s promises until they’re overflowing.
So, leave everything—your fears, disappointments, mistakes, the unfulfilled plans you had for your life—leave it all on the shore. And follow the Love that first found you.
Amy is a Press Services International Columnist from Adelaide. She has a BA in Creative Writing and Screen & Media, and now works as a freelance photographer, videographer and writer. She was runner-up in the 2018 Basil Sellars Award. Her previous articles can be viewed here: http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/amy-manners.html