As we wrap up the the theme of passion for your purpose, this week’s blog is all about moving forward and trying again in the wake of failure and disappointment. We’ve all experienced before, but what do we do when we feel nudged by God to give it another go?
I hope you enjoy this post and most of all, I hope it’s as encouraging to you as it has been to me.
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. Luke 5:1-9 (NLT)
Go out where it is deeper and let down your nets…
Have you ever hit a wall in your pursuit of a dream? Have you ever experienced disappointment when going after the things you know you were meant to do, things that you know to do well? I have. In the passage above, we can see that Peter and this group of fishermen definitely did. Jesus meets Simon Peter and his crew as they were washing their nets after a long and unproductive night fishing. This group of knowledgeable, seasoned fishermen–doing what they knew well to do–had come back empty-handed when Jesus met them on the sea that day. They were probably tired, disappointed and feeling like they’d wasted their time. I’m sure most of us can relate because, let’s be honest, doesn’t life feel just like this sometimes? Especially in moments when, like these fishermen, we do the things we know how to do well–moments when we are operating in our gifts and talents, doing the things we know that we were purposed for–and still somehow after all that fishing, we come back with nothing? I love that this story opens with Jesus coming across them washing their nets because many times I’ve been found washing my nets feeling like giving up, disappointed after trying hard and seemingly having caught nothing.
I also love that the story doesn’t end there.
I’ve been looking at this passage for a while now and there’s just so much there that it’s been hard for me to find a place to start. But in these past few months in my life where I find myself feeling like I’ve been fishing all night to no avail, what sticks out to me is Simon Peter’s response to Jesus’s instructions; he essentially says, I’ve been there. We’ve done it already. I already tried. We already gave it all we had. BUT, If you say so, I will. “If you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.”
Sure a story like this can sound like a good example of the importance of persistence and perseverance, but what happens when even after we persist and persevere, we come up with nothing? I could rattle off a laundry list of things that I have at some point tried and been persistent and hopeful about, only to feel the sting of disappointment. You know, those shoulda happened by now types of things. Those, I’m doing everything I should, but this isn’t working type of things. Those, no matter how hard I try, this still hasn’t happened type of things.
These guys fished all night. They were hustling. They were grinding–they put in the work. I think they had the persistence game in the bag, but persistence didn’t get them the big catch–obedience did. Peter’s “If you say so, I will,” posture of obedience put him in the right place for the haul that God had already prepared for him, but he had to go out and cast his net again. Our obedience puts us in the right position for receiving the promise. The haul is His to position, but the net is ours to cast.
My Pastor says something that I think about often in moments when I’m feeling defeated. He says, “Sometimes a set-back is just a set-up for a miracle.” Peter didn’t have a “reason” to follow Jesus’s directions about going back out where it was deeper and casting his nets again. Their experience told them there was nothing to be caught that day, but Peter didn’t let his experience dictate his obedience to Jesus’s instruction. If they would have left based on their experience, they would have never received the bounty that they did.
So, in light of this, I look at my own life and I encourage you to look at yours. Think about those areas where God has been calling us to go deeper. Think about where God is telling us to get back in the boat and cast our nets again. Even now, there are things that we need to choose obedience over discouragement and persistent faith over fear where it may cost us a bit more because we’re tired and already washing our nets in disappointment.
Where can we go deeper?
Where can we cast our nets again?
I want to encourage you, friend. Cast again in obedience. Cast again in faith. Cast again in surrender. Cast again even if it costs.
Peter’s obedience to go out where it was deeper and cast again didn’t just benefit or bless him; both boats were filled to the brink of sinking. What’s more, I think it’s fair to assume that the guys in the other boat didn’t even go out and try again as Jesus directed. The passage tells us that those in Peter’s boat had to call out for help from the other boat when they made their big catch, which likely means that they had stayed behind. But isn’t it like God to do a lot with a little? In fact, Peter tells Jesus, “Leave me, I’m too much of a sinner,” because he was so amazed at what Jesus could do. But Jesus goes on to tell him, “Don’t be afraid, from now on you will fish for people.” Friends, God always wants to do more with our lives than what we expect. Peter caught the haul of his life because Jesus allowed him to, but beyond that, Jesus invited him into something even greater. Something that would last longer. God wants to bless us where we’re at and our obedience will be the catalyst for it, but believe that he has even more in store for us than we can imagine. He is inviting us into building his church, into being fishers of men in our workplaces, in our communities, in our schools, in our families, in our homes, but it requires us to go deeper, it requires us to obediently cast our nets again in the things he’s called us to–even when it makes no sense and even if others won’t come along with us.
So I ask again, where is God calling us to go where its deeper? Where is he directing you to cast your net again? Maybe you tried on your own already. Maybe you did everything you knew to do. But go where its deeper, cast again, try again, let out your net again, dream again, pray again, get into the Word again, take a chance on that business again, have faith again, believe again, engage in relationship again, forgive again, create again, get healthy again, do what you’ve been called you to do again, because guys, there’s a haul that he’s set up that’s too big for just you or for me, there are others who’s lives will will be changed by our obedience as well.