Lessons From A Fisherman
By Dot Bowen
Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” Luke 5:5 (NIV)
I learned the hard way not to tell a fisherman how to fish on a fishing trip with my husband. Howard loves to fish, and I thought it would be a great time for us to get away together. As I observed Howard fishing, I noticed he was throwing his lure near the bank of the river. Being the helpful companion I am, I suggested he might catch more fish if he put his lure deeper in the water. His facial expression let me know you don’t tell a fisherman how to fish if you’ve never been fishing!
My fishing trip with Howard reminded me about the story of Peter washing his nets when Jesus climbed aboard his boat and began teaching the crowd gathered around Him. Knowing a few fishermen myself, I wonder if Peter was listening to Jesus’ teaching or warily watching Jesus take his boat back out in the water. After Jesus finished teaching, He told Peter to let his nets down again after he’d already been fishing all night without catching a single fish. My newfound fishing experience gave me insight into the weariness and frustration Peter must have felt because this request certainly didn’t make sense to Peter. He had just washed and put away his nets. And Peter was and veteran fisherman on the Sea of Galilee! He knew the best time to fish was at night in shallow water. But Peter obeyed Jesus even though it made no sense.
This story is not at all about fishing; this story is about obeying Jesus even when we don’t understand. What Peter didn’t realize was Jesus was setting the stage to demonstrate God’s power through a miracle for the entire crowd to witness. It’s so much easier to dwell on questions, past failures, and hopelessness instead of the power of God. But in our hopelessness we have the opportunity to trust Jesus or trust what we think we know. We must be willing to lay down our nets and trust God by obeying Him even when it doesn’t make sense.
Peter would have missed Jesus’s miracle had he not obeyed Him. And I would have missed seeing God do miracles in my own life had I not obeyed Him even when it made no sense. Sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish between God’s voice and my own selfish motives or what I think is best for me. I’ve often prayed, “It’s not that I don’t trust you, God; I don’t trust me!” I’ve recognized when I’m determined to do a certain thing, it’s usually my own will, but when my heart is totally set on God, I’ve never regretted trusting Him. It’s never a mistake to trust and obey God—even if it doesn’t make sense to anyone else.
Just remember, God will never lead you to do anything against Scripture because He does not contradict His Word. There’s not a Scripture for every decision we need to make, but there will be a principle you can apply to discern if God is speaking to you or if you are following your own desires. We must search our heart and motive to make sure God is speaking to us. After we sift our motives and believe God is speaking to our heart, it’s safe to do whatever He asks. God is in the miracle business, and He loves to show the world what He can do in a heart set on Him. After Peter obeyed Jesus and experienced the miracle, he left his fishing business and became one of the greatest fishers of men our world has ever known. Jesus is our Shepherd, and He’s asking us to trust and follow Him. We call this being a follower of Christ and a fisher of men. It’s time to throw out our nets and wait for God to bring the reward. What or who are you trusting to give you the desires of your heart?
Further Reading James 1:12-18, Luke 5