I’ve always wondered at those guys there in that boat. They’d known the sea all their lives, smelled like fish from head to toe. Fishing was life, fishing made their lives and there was no way to live without fish.
At the end of long days, I can see Simon there at the end of his long night, all tuckered out and frustrated at the end of his very long fishing rope. There’s nothing to show for his hard night of casting one net after another-he’s gotten nothing of what he’s been wanting and then this teacher shows up.
And He asks to use the boat and He might as well, since it’s no storehouse for fish this morning. He talks strange words and tells of a Kingdom that’s finally come and then looks Simon in the eyes and tells him to give it one more try.
When my arms ache at the close of the day from toting crying babies and loads of laundry and heaving big strollers and too many bags, I can see Simon rub his sore biceps and tell the stranger who clearly knows not one thing about fishing:
‘We’ve been doing this all night long and haven’t gotten a thing we wanted….there’s really no point anymore.’
But when Jesus speaks like this, there’s no way to say, ‘No’ and Simon finally gives in.
And the strangest thing happens.
Fish from every corner of the Sea come at Jesus’ command right into Simon’s empty net. It’s full, overflowing, and too much for him to handle. He grabs friends and they grab ends and try to hold on to all that Jesus has given right there in the most unlikely place for a big catch-near the water’s edge at mid day with a huge and loud crowd nearby.
When Simon saw the fish,he must’ve seen more-a catch like that was like a bag of gold-full of wealth and power and prestige.
But then the stranger thing happens.
All the fish there in the boat, all that Simon’s ever wanted, certainly the catch he could only dream about and he’s not even counting.
He’s got his eyes on Jesus and looking at Jesus helps his eyes see everything else as it really is.
It wasn’t the empty net that was the problem. It was his empty soul. And he says it loud:
‘I am a sinful man, O Lord.’ Luke 5:8
I have dragged in empty nets before. I know what a pointless day can feel like. Somewhere in my head, I’ve got that list-what a good day would really look like.
I look like this, the kids behave like that, Jason treats me this way, this person says I matter, this work project is a success, the house cleans itself, the bank account is full, and no one cries, for at least an hour.
But what then?
What would I actually do with a day like that, a life like that, a net so full that I can’t pull it in alone?
Wasn’t it Solomon who got all he actually wanted and then said that life was meaningless?
Did I read this right, did the rich young ruler actually go away sad because of his many possessions?
Is this what I’m striving after, longing for, casting my net toward again and again? Could getting all I actually want actually make life meaningless, could getting it all make me all the more disappointed?
Simon Peter was a lot of things, but I can’t remember him being sad or feeling like it was all meaningless.
And yet all that he’d been wanting all his life was left right there in the boat. As soon as he got all he wanted to shore, he parked the boat, left it all in the net, and ran after Jesus.
What about the fish, Simon? The fish? This is the catch of your life and it’s all right here in the boat-enough to make a mint, pay off debts, buy a nicer place, take care of your family. Take these to market and you’re set.
Could I see this clearly today-that even if I got all I’d been wanting, I’d still be wanting? The longings, the deep sighs, the empty disappointments, these are just Christ’s way of waking me up after a long night.
There’s no catch anywhere that can fill these deep spaces.
The only hope is to be caught by Him, called by Him, carried by Him away from all this wanting.
Oh Lord, who cares if my net is full or empty today. How can I even notice when You’re here in the boat. You, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, choose to come and befriend me, lead me, teach me, live here inside me. Really? And I’m still wanting?
Let me not be like the rich young ruler, walking away sad with full pockets. Lord, let me be like Simon. Empty my pockets, no matter how full and let me be finally filled with what I’ve really been wanting-more of You.