Have you ever found yourself moving at 100 miles per hour on a particular project or for a particular season only to feel like you’re not really making any significant progress? It seems like no matter what you do, you end up in the same spot with the only difference being that now you’re more tired. Some people refer to it as treading water. There’s lot of activity but no real movement. I’ve been there a time or two myself. Those times can be frustrating and at times you may even feel like throwing in the towel. After all, what’s the point of all this if we’re not making any real difference?
My kids are still misbehaving.
My relationship with my spouse is still struggling.
My boss still doesn’t notice my improved job performance.
What’s the point? Luke 5 records for us the account of Jesus aiding a few of His future disciples in a net busting catch of fish.
Check out Luke 5:1-11.
“One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.” “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking. When Simon Peter realized 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, as were the others with him. His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed. Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.”
I notice a couple of things about this miracle that are worth pointing out:
Jesus got into the empty boat. When Jesus approached the edge of the sea shore he chose to occupy the empty vessel. Peter had been out all day trying to manage on his own, trying everything he knew to do to achieve some level of success. He came up empty handed. He literally had nothing to show for a night’s full of hard labor. Perhaps it was the end of a shift, perhaps it was out of exhaustion, maybe he was just fed up with his lack of results but for all intents and purposes, Peter had given up. He had vacated his vessel. He had emptied out his vessel and it was at that precise moment that Jesus steps into the picture to fill it up. There is a significant lesson there for you and I as well. Too often we cry out for a miracle from God without ever giving up on our original plans. We stay out at sea laboring, striving, scrounging for some results. Perhaps your miracle from God will only arrive once you stop trying to create one for yourself.
Peter still had to put in some work. Once Jesus steps into the boat, He looks at Peter and instructs him to push them out into the water a little ways. This must have been frustrating for Peter. After all he had just been out all night working and now Jesus is telling him to put in a little more work. I can imagine Peter’s stomach churning as he pushed the boat away from the shore yet again. Why was Jesus insisting that Peter go through all of these same motions again? Why did he have to push out yet again? But this time it was different. This time his companion on the journey was someone who had some inside knowledge of where the fish were biting. This time His fishing partner possessed something that his previous partners hadn’t possessed. Peter still had some work today but this time he was moving forward with greater knowledge and wisdom. Too often when we look to God for a miracle, we choose to sit on our hands and wait for Him to do all of the work. When things don’t pan out like we think they should we become frustrated and weary. A miracle doesn’t replace our responsibility to be faithful. It brings movement and action to our faithfulness.
Peter had to to through a period of learning before the miracle. Something that I had never noticed about this passage before was that before the actual miracle of a net busting catch of fish occurred, Jesus chose to spend some time teaching those that had gathered. The Scripture says that when He had finished teaching, He instructed Peter to let down the nets once again. If Peter wasn’t frustrated to begin with, he was probably through the roof when Jesus starts teaching. Peter’s probably thinking, is this why we’re here? What do I even get out of this deal other than a bigger sunburn and more aching muscles? But just imagine Peter sitting there, perhaps listening by default to the words of Jesus. Yes, he had no choice but to listen, but I can imagine that some of what Jesus said in those moments slipped into Peter’s heart and mind. Perhaps you and I are also sometimes required to go through a period of learning before our miracle arrives. How often do we just cry out for a miracle and never stop to wonder what God is wanting to teach us in the process, before the miracle?
Questions for Reflection:
How empty is your vessel?
Are you still tirelessly working, frantically trying to create your own miracle?
Are you willing to put in the work for your miracle? Not frantic work, but faithful work?
Are you willing to continue going through the motions of faithfulness believing that God will show up?
What might God be teaching you in your period of waiting for a miracle?
Take a few minutes to join me in a daily journey inside God's Word for the next few days. Check back daily for updates. Be encouraged and keep moving forward.