This devotional thought, originally published here in June 2016, was written in tandem by Brenda Jank and a friend who serves as a missionary in a sensitive country.
Some people are good at fishing. I’m not! When my children were little I took them fishing because it’s a “good” daddy thing to do. Wisely, I packed snacks! Ten years later, they still remember those snacks as the highlight of the trips.
Simon Peter was good at fishing. He earned his livelihood with his boat and nets. One day when he and his crew were washing those nets, Jesus needed a floating pulpit to teach the masses crowding his lakeside discourse. Peter and company obliged and in return, they got front row seats for what they thought was the main event. Little did they know, the real action was yet to come.
When he (Jesus) had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.” Luke 5:4-5
Stop right there. Can you relate to hard work resulting in empty hands?
How often do we face a long obedience in the same direction with little to show for it? At times like this, it doesn’t take long to buckle under deep discouragement.
A billion Muslims, including most of my neighbors, are fasting this month of Ramadan, striving to fill their account in heaven with enough good to outbalance their sins. Their hard work counts for nothing! Isaiah tells us, “all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.” Isaiah 64:6
The missing ingredient? God’s grace.
Are you aware of God’s grace at work, trusting Him in the midst of empty nets and a weary heart? As we head back into Peter’s story we are reminded that Jesus has come onto Peter’s lake, in Peter’s boat, and now he wants to tell Peter what to do with his nets. In pride, he could have said, “Jesus, you’re a good teacher, but I’m the fisherman here. I know these waters, and the fish just aren’t there. You stick to the spiritual stuff, and I’ll run my own business.”
Instead, humbly recognizing Jesus’ authority, Peter replies in faith, “But because you say so, I will let down my nets.”
The nets went down empty, but came back full, so full that they began to tear. This is amazing grace, not accomplished by our hard work, but poured out by the work of God!
Today, do you have an empty net and a weary heart after a long night of struggle? In our work and in our rest, let us look and listen for God’s direction and be ready to say, “But because you say so, Lord, I will!”