Sunday, February 10, 2013

We worked hard all night and caught nothing

Simon replied, 'Master, we worked hard all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets.' - Luke 5:5

How discouraged Simon must have felt.  He was an experienced fisherman, a man who knew the seas and the fish and the oceans at least as well as anyone else.  Yet, he'd caught nothing. He'd worked hard, put his best effort in, and it wasn't enough.  He was discouraged, saw his efforts as a failure, and decided to give in for that morning.  No fish meant nothing to eat, nothing to sell for that day. Nothing to take home to the family who was waiting for him. Empty handed and exhausted from the work, he'd packed it all up and was preparing to put it away.

Then along comes Jesus, telling him to cast out his nets again.  Simon can hardly believe his ears. Does Jesus doubt Simon? Does Jesus think Simon hasn't tried hard enough? Does Jesus, the carpenter, think he knows more about fishing than Simon?  Yet Simon does what the Lord instructs him to do.  He puts out into deep waters and casts his nets once more.  The results are astonishing!

With Jesus leading him, not only does he catch fish - but so much fish that he has to signal the second boat to come help him haul it all in.  There's enough fish that both boats are in danger of sinking! What he could not accomplish all night long on his effort alone is done with a single casting when the Lord is at the helm.

There's a lesson in this for all of us. When we are discouraged, when we feel like we've given it everything we have and nothing we have done worked, when we're ready to pack up our nets and go home, maybe it's time to listen to the voice of Jesus.  Maybe it's not time to quit, maybe it's time to let Jesus guide the direction we're taking, let Him show us where to cast the nets.  Maybe our harvest isn't plentiful because we're not listening to his instructions.

God's harvest isn't about hard work. It's His grace that brings in the bounty. We can work all day without God's help and accomplish a whole lot of nothing, or we can do it the way he tells us to and get out of it more than we ever imagined with less effort than we ever thought possible.  It just has to be done His way, in His time, at His direction.  Are we ready for that?

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