One night a group of men decided to go fishing. They jumped into their trawler and pushed out of the shallows. When they were just far enough from shore to do their best fishing, they began to lower and draw their nets back in over and over again. The low hiss of the night breeze, the waves lapping the sides of the trawler, and their hungry stomachs were the only sounds heard besides their sighs of growing frustration. After working tirelessly for several hours, the men began to feel both hopeless and tired. Still they continued to work.
As the sun slid higher and higher in the sky their eyes opened. The slow rolling waves had rocked them into a gentle sleep. As they were preparing to come back to shore they heard someone calling out to their boat. They scanned the edge of the water and spotted a man near the waves. Threads of smoke rose from a small fire near his side. His voice rang out,
“Friends, have you any fish?”
“Try the right side of the boat.”
Though weary and ready to get ashore, they silently agreed to lower the nets one more time. As they drew the nets in this time they found it much harder. It took all their remaining strength to pull the nets up. One of the men suddenly spun back around and hollered,
“It is the Lord!”
He then jumped out of the boat and into to the water making his way quickly to shore.
The disciples of Jesus have taught me many things as I have studied and read through their historic accounts in the Bible. I am greatly challenged by their humanity and their foolish ways because I am so much like them.
Jesus had just been with these men for 3 years teaching them and instructing them about the ways of the kingdom yet they doubted and feared when He was arrested. Men that promised to follow Him to death abandoned Him when death came searching. And when He arose and showed Himself to them perpetuating His previous instructions, they forgot to obey soon after He had gone away again. But God, in His patience, returned to remind them yet again of the work that lay ahead.
What I love most about this particular account is that Jesus comes to the men to remind them of their calling! Man will trust in himself by defaulting to what he knows but by doing so he will never achieve the results which God can provide. When God calls, we must change our habits and routines and do as He commands! We cannot just return to our fishing boats if He has not called us to do so.
Beyond the calling, God wanted the men to come face to face with their humanity. There was nothing magical about the last cast they put out. It was the same spot they fished in all night. It held the same fish all night. And they used the same boat and nets. God simply provided an abundance to show them that it is He who brings much reward. The only thing wrong with my methods or my work is the pronoun that precedes it. If it is mine, it will surely not succeed, but if it is God's there is no way it can fail!
Lately, I have been toiling just as the disciples. My muscles burn. My eyes are heavy. My mouth is full of complaint. Ready to come back in and regroup – or perhaps even quit – I hear a voice calling out to me. “Have you caught anything?” I want to bite back, “If I had caught anything do you think I would still be out here, genius?” but I resort to a “no”. With instructions to do again what I have been doing, suddenly something is different. Although I had cast the net incredulously I am struggling to draw it back in because I am not strong enough to bring it in full. With only one explanation I know that it is the Lord's provision. Dumbly, I am astounded. God's provision always surprises me, even though it should not.
Those humble moments remind me – with the waves around me, the wind hissing gently, my stomach growling, and with tired eyes and sore muscles – I am not enough! All of my toiling will fail. Every time. Yet, if He is in the work there will be only success. God yields better results than I ever could because He is enough. I am called to do, but He is the One that will produce. My toiling is unnecessary. All He asks is that I trust Him to do something great through the work He has set before me.