Yesterday as I was reading a familiar story, one line stuck out to me so much that I thought about it all day (and thought it was worth sharing with you). Luke 5 (NLT) begins: “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. 2 He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. 3 Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon (Peter), its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there.
4 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.”
5 “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.” 6 And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! 7 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.
8 When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m too much of a sinner to be around you.” 9 For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. 10 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!” 11 And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.”
This time as I read the story, I thought about the fact that these men had worked hard all night long. They were likely exhausted and perhaps even frustrated that they had been working and yet unsuccessful. I think it would be safe to say that they were ready to go home, give in the towel, call it a day. But Jesus said to go deeper and try again. Simon Peter told Jesus (humbly, I will add) we already tried that, Lord! And it got us nowhere!!! We’ve already worked ALL NIGHT and caught NOTHING!!! But instead of quitting because of his present reality, he obeyed, noting “But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.”
We know the rest of the story – they weren’t just successful, they were overwhelmingly successful! So much so that Simon Peter recognized Jesus as Lord.
But, what if instead of obeying the men had said, “This sucks, I quit!” What if in their exhaustion of working hard and having nothing to show for it, they gave up? What if they didn’t listen when Jesus beckoned them to go deeper, to try again, to listen to His calling…
There are many times I want to give up in my own life when I don’t see progress. Lord, I’ve tried! I’m done! But, instead God gently says…”go deeper, try again.” My lifelong struggle has been losing weight, including eating healthier and exercising. I’ll have success and then slide back into old habits of finding emotional comfort in food and drink or enjoying sleep rather than exercise. I want it to come easy and it just doesn’t. I continue to find myself in a place where I need to ask the Lord for His help and His healing. It’s easy for me to say “God, I tried really hard and I just couldn’t…” but He sweetly beckons and reminds me that success comes when He is part of the solution.
My struggle may not be an area that you wrestle with, but I think this applies to more than just being healthy. Rocky marriages, balancing a budget, parenting, getting along with others… it’s easy to say “I tried. I gave it a good effort. It still didn’t work,” and then give up. “I tried showing my spouse I love them, but they still don’t listen to me… I worked really hard this month and I still can’t pay the bills… I tried to give my kids loving attention and they still acted out…. I tried to be forgiving to that person and they are still awful…” DON’T GIVE UP! Instead invite Jesus into your boat. Ask for His help and guidance. Where can you go deeper with Him? How can He help you succeed?
Did the men’s successful catch come from their efforts? Hardly! While they did the work, God receives the glory for turning the situation around. And I believe wholeheartedly that He can do the same today.
Go deeper. Try again. Obey God.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your Word is alive and meaningful. Thank You for providing practical tips to us. Lord, we’ve worked hard for a long time. We’re tired and ready to give up. But, we hear You say “Go deeper and try again.” We desire to obey. But, Lord, our success only comes from You. If you’re not with us in the boat and helping us, we will only fail again. We humbly ask for You to draw near to us and be part of the solution. May You receive the glory for the turn around in our situation. May we be so overwhelmingly successful that we call to others to join us! May we live for You… In Jesus’ Name we pray, AMEN!