Luke 5:5, 7, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing,…they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats so that they began to sink.”
As the night gave way to morning Simon Peter pulled his empty boat ashore. A heavy sigh barely began to capture the depth of his frustration. He had spent an entire night pushing himself beyond the point of exhaustion. Time and time again he had gone through all the necessary motions. Casting the net. Pulling in it. Casting the net. Pulling it in. Over. And over. And over again. Years of experience and the press of immediate need drove him throughout the evening long after the sun had set. His muscles ached. His mind wearied as discouragement set in. And his spirit began to crumple under the weight of a seemingly pointless task. And what did he have to show for all his efforts? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not one single fish. The boat was empty.
Fast forward a few hours. It seems hard to believe that this is even the same man. The earlier sigh of frustration has been replaced by laughter and shouts of joy. The muscles still ache but the momentary pain has been overshadowed by joy and sheer amazement. The mind is alive. The spirit is refreshed. All the necessary motions are still the same. Casting the net. Pulling it in. But this time the nets that had once been empty are now full of fish. So many fish that the nets are literally breaking. Peter calls out to his friends for help. And before they have time to fully appreciate what is happening they find themselves sinking under the weight of their miraculous catch. And what did he have to show for all his efforts? Too many. Way too many. Not one more fish. The boat was full.
Amazing how quickly life can change. What was the difference? How is it that Simon Peter is able to move so quickly from empty to full? Three simple thoughts worth considering:
- This time Jesus is in the boat. The Master’s presence in our lives makes all the difference. Life can quickly become a pointless and fruitless routine when He is neglected. How often do we launch out into a new day without Him?
- This time Peter has the word of His promise. Peter does the exact same thing he had done all night before. But this time he has heard God’s voice of direction. Have I taken the time to listen for His voice, to hear His promise for my current need?
- This time Peter is acting in obedience. The night before was human effort. This time Peter is responding to the Lord’s command. Am I obeying in faith the last thing He spoke to me?
Empty might very well be your present experience. I have been doing this long enough to know that many people find themselves going through the motions but at the end of the day they still find their “boats” empty. Life has become routine. Their Christian experience borders on pointless. And it certainly feel fruitless at times. Let me encourage you to launch out again. Sometimes all it takes is just one more time. David Wilkerson once said, “The hardest part of faith is the last thirty minutes.” You are closer to full than you realize. Empty can become a thing of the past. Make sure He is in the boat. Listen for His voice. And then obey what you hear. Empty can and will become full