When Nets Are Empty

“When time trudges on
And life isn’t biting,
When your boat is rocking
And waves slap mercilessly,
Hold out for the voice,
Him,
Who makes empty nets overflowing.”

This morning I was reminded of what an awesome story takes place in Luke 5. Simon Peter, a fisherman by trade, has been fishing all night to no avail. After scouring the lake, all of his efforts have come up null. He comes to the shores empty handed where Jesus has already begun speaking to the crowds that morning. Due to the overcrowding of those who have come to listen, Jesus gets into Peter’s boat so that he can teach from offshore. Once on the lake, Jesus tells Peter to throw out his nets again. Can you imagine the thoughts that Peter must have had?

“Um, Jesus, you’re the teacher, I’m the fisherman. You just got here, I’ve been here all night. You’re a carpenter, I’m the expert of the sea. What is the point?”

Specifically, Peter is telling Jesus not to expect much. In verse 5 he says, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing!” In other words, “Jesus, I respect you, but don’t expect me to get the results you’re asking for.”

Despite the failure and disappointment from the night before, Peter responds to Jesus. “But at your word I will let down the nets.” Despite his own failed attempts, Peter surrenders. It is a wearied surrender, one that occurs after a long, fruitless struggle, but it is surrender nonetheless. He surely wasn’t expecting what occurred next. A catch so large that multiple boats were called in to help. So many fish that their nets were breaking. Such a haul, that their boats were on the verge of sinking.

There was more than fish that were captured that day. Peter’s heart was netted as well. In that moment, he realized a far greater reward than a net full of fish.

Are you growing tired of the toil? Waiting for results that to this point have been elusive? Perhaps parenting is bringing its share of frustrations right now and you’re not seeing the outcomes you’d like. Maybe it’s in your relationships, your health or your work situation. You’ve been casting your nets out for a long time with nothing to show for it. The temptation is to give up. To find something else that “works”. Pragmatism is a devilish lure cast by a pole that you are not holding. However, the results that God is bringing about are happening within you. It is not simply results that God is after, but your heart. A heart that grows in trust. Godly obedience leads to worship. Take it from one tired fisherman who became an invigorated worshipper:

*Listen to the voice of the One who spurs you on.

*Obey his voice even when it doesn’t seem to make sense.

*Look to Jesus. He has accomplished what you are unable to.

*Surrender in worship, ultimately realizing that the One who answers prayer is far more valuable than the answered prayer.

Perhaps in your struggle it’s time for you to jump out of the boat and into the net. Perhaps you’ve been rowing, casting and depending on your own strength too long. You’ve looked so intently for results that you have overlooked the One who provides rest. May your circumstances cast you into the arms of Jesus.

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