BY REV. JOSEPH M. MAY
LIGHT OF THE LAKES FRIENDS CHURCH
John 21:1-14 starts off with seven of Christ's disciples going fishing after a busy couple of days: their Lord Jesus was arrested, declared an enemy of the state, sentenced to death, crucified, and resurrected in the past week.
So the disciples were probably tired and exhausted from the events earlier in the week and just looking to sit down for a good meal. They got in their boats, cast their nets into the water, and patiently waited.
The night passed and it was a dawn of a new day but the disciples had nothing to show for it because their nets were empty. It seemed pointless now to stay in the boat and try to catch something that was not there. Why bother or even attempt to stay any longer?
It was obvious to Peter and his crew that there was nothing here so they decided to back it up and move on. It wasn't a big deal, they had wasted a night looking for something that was not there and they came up short.
We all have experienced moments like this in life. We have spent an adequate amount of time searching, pursuing, or waiting for something to happen. We wait patiently for our "change to come," a breakthrough, employment, etc. We devote time, money, and our resources to try to catch something that seems to have alluded our grasp. We might have become frustrated, discouraged, or it's just we have come to the point of realization that this is not going to work out so we just need to walk away.
But look what happens right when the disciples are ready to give up.
A man appears and asks them, "children, do you have any fish (John 21:5)?" Peter's answer is short and maybe even a little mean because he has worked all night for nothing and he says, "No" (John 21:6).
Have you been there? After you have given all you can give in the hope of accomplishing something but it blows up in your face, someone comes up to you asking, "how is it going?" and you just want to to say, "Dude for real? Do you not see the bags under my eyes or the scowl upon my face ... things are terrible!"
Or when you are trying to save a marriage that is in trouble and friend says "How is the wife?" you want to reply "Have you not seen how my wife changed her relationship status from 'married' to 'it's 'complicated?'" We all have been frustrated beyond belief to the point we cannot tell if others are mocking us or if they are truly concerned about how things are going in our life. If you are there, I want you to keep reading because what happens next in John 21 is truly inspiring for us all.
In verse 6, the mystery man tells them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some fish." The seven disciples for whatever reason decided to listen to him and cast their nets. They caught so many fish in the net they were unable to haul it in (John 21:6) and instantly they realized it was Jesus. Peter, probably overcome with joy, grabbed his clothes and jumped in the water to meet Jesus on the shore (John 21:7). Because they were willing to take one more chance instead of quitting, they had an abundance of fish. They did not consider how they felt, the earlier failed attempts, or even if this last chance would work. No, they just took a leap of faith.
How about you? Are you at the point when you feel like giving up and calling it quits? Are you looking at how things are not working out and it just seems as if you are wasting your time pursuing something that is not there? What if God would say to you, "Don't give up, and take a chance ... again!" I am not promising you an abundance but I am telling you if you hold on and trust God, He will bless you beyond what you have expected just like the disciples (Ephesians 5:20).
We often do not see the blessing that is just right around the corner because we are too busy focusing on how things did not work out last time. We lose our ambitions to see things through when we are constantly faced with disappointment after disappointment.
But remember this, faith is not dependent on your situation or how you feel, it is dependent on God. Faith is being fully convinced that what we are seeing is temporary and what God has promised is yet to come (Hebrews 11:1). His promises are a matter of His timing and not our situations (Habakkuk 2:2-3). Sometimes we have to bow our heads and plow through disappointment to get the expected end. Look at Abraham who was physically incapable of fathering children but he knew God was able to do anything (Romans 4:18-20). Our resolve that God is faithful and true to do what He has promised must stay steadfast (Romans 4:21). See things through to the end, God strengthens those who are willing to walk with Him even when it feels like "quitting time" and blesses them with His expected outcome (Isaiah 40:28-31). I know you may be tired and feel like walking away but get back in the boat and cast that net. I implore you, take a chance ... again! Stay focused and you can do this!