Toiling for Nothing
- Monday, November 28, 2005
"And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless, at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes. For he was a astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of fishes which they had taken." Luke 5:5, 6, 9
Peter was no stranger to the sea. He was one of those guys who puts his heart and soul into his work. He knew the latest trends in fishing, had custom-made equipment, understood the ways of the sea, and worked quite well with his fishing partners. Everything a person could need for the successful life of a fisherman was part of the equation So what happened? How could they spend an entire night out on the sea and come home without a single solitary fish?
As he and his fishing buddies towed their nets to the shallow water for cleaning, the analysis paralysis began. With every rhythmic dunk and swish, each of them pondered the events of the previous night: "Maybe we were too loud . . . I told them we needed to go further out to sea . . . not enough moonlight . . . too much moonlight . . . too windy . . . not enough wind . . . "
Sometimes a man fails in spite of all his knowledge and experience. When this happens, he never takes it lightly although he wants you to think he does. He replays each scene in his mind over and over and over again looking for patterns, clues, and minute details that escaped his eye--anything that may uncover the root of his real or perceived failure. I suppose this is why so many men are glued to Monday night football; we thrive on replays because it's part of our make up.
Jesus "just happened" to be passing by that morning. The crowds were soon gathering and multitudes surrounded him. So many souls to teach, edify, and exhort; and yet, how could they all hear him? Surely a seated platform and some kind of a barrier would keep the people at a distance where everyone could see and hear Him clearly.
Peter and his men apparently had given up. They were tired and hungry and ready to go home. That's when he noticed the solitary figure climbing into his boat. It was Jesus. "Hey friend," He said, "can you push me out a little way into the water?" The fisherman obliged and Jesus continued teaching the multitudes from the stern of Peter's boat.
If I had been Peter, my mind would have been thinking of the hot breakfast waiting for me back home, a soft bed, and a pillow with my name on it. Doesn't it seem like Jesus requests our involvement when we have other things we'd rather be doing? He wants us to expend a little more of our energy when we're already tired, and weary. Often it seems that He pushes our last button when we are frustrated the most. Have you ever wondered why?
Knowing the wonderful grace of Jesus personally, it makes me smile when I read Jesus' words, "Launch out into the deep and let your nets down for a catch." The Lord always rewards those who heed His calling. Peter wasn't thinking of a reward, though. He was replaying the time and effort which was wasted during the long night's excursion. "Launch out into the deep? Let the nets down for a catch? Who are you kidding?" he thought to himself.
Peter collected his thoughts and then tactfully stated, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing." I imagine that an uncomfortably long period of silence followed his statement. Peter wanted the weight of his words to sink down deep into Jesus' ears--"toiled . . . all night . . caught nothing . . . toiled . . . ALL night . . . caught NOTHING . ." The Master sat quietly and waited for Peter to respond. In His Divine wisdom, Jesus knew that obedience is always rewarded, and there was an amazing reward waiting for Peter.
"Nevertheless, at your word, I'll let down the net," Peter conceded. Remember this phrase when you can't sleep at night because your son has difficulty remembering his multiplication tables. Think about it when your daughter fails her spelling test after you helped her study for days on end. Replay Peter's answer when you, too, have felt like all your labor has been in vain and you have toiled--really toiled--for nothing. "At your word, I'll let down the net--because you've asked, Lord, I'll do it again."
Recently on Encouragement
Have something to say about this article? Leave your comment via Facebook below!
Listen to Your Favorite Pastors
Add Crosswalk.com content to your siteBrowse available content