The Ones That Got Away

As you can see, I have not fallen off the face of the earth, and I do apologize that it has been so long since my last post.  Between getting our house ready to sell, finding a home for Barnabas (which we did), and traveling thousands of miles (yes, thousands!) over the past month, it’s been all I can do to keep straight where I am and what day it is.  But I can tell you this, I’ve missed sharing my heart with you, and I couldn’t let another day go by without writing to you.  So, from the comforts of the hotel room where I’m currently staying, I bring you today’s devotion.

And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.
— Luke 5:1-8

I’ve written and taught from this passage so many times, I thought I knew it backward and forward.  I’ve discussed the empty nets, the hopeless fishermen, and the miraculous catch.  I’ve explored—I thought—every angle of this account, but this week, the Lord opened my eyes to something I’ve missed.  For as many times as I’ve read, studied, and quoted this passage, there was a glaring point I’ve overlooked.  Thanks to a sensational message by Dr. Caudill, the director of our mission board, I now understand this story in a whole new way.

I would like to draw your attention to Jesus’ command to the disciples.  Though they had fished all night and caught nothing, He commanded them to let down their nets for a draught.  Notice the plural form “nets,” as in, more than one.  I have no idea how many nets the disciples had, but we know they had more than one because the second verse of the passage tells us as much.  Besides that, being professional fishermen, it’s safe to assume there were multiple nets.  

So, Jesus tells them to let down the nets.  Pay close attention to Peter’s response.  On the surface, it seems good.  Obedient.  Of faith.  He tells Jesus that they had been out all night and caught nothing but because Jesus commanded, they would obey.  Then, Peter proceeded to let down “the net.”  Did you catch that?  Net, as in one.  Not nets—plural.  Just one.  One net.  Peter obeyed the Lord. . .sort of.  He acted but not in complete obedience.  For whatever reason, he failed to let down all the nets and settled for just one.

As a result of his incomplete obedience, notice what happened.  The net became so full, it broke.  Imagine how many fish the disciples could have caught that day if they had let down all the nets.  But instead, they didn’t even get a complete net full because when the net broke, some of the fish got away.  Yes, they brought in a great load, but they could have had so much more if they had only obeyed completely.  They could have had God’s best, but they settled for good enough.

I don’t know why Peter didn’t throw out all the nets.  Maybe he didn’t really believe it was worth the trouble.  After all, they had fished all night.  They were tired, weary, and frustrated.  Maybe Peter—even though he partially obeyed—didn’t truly believe they would catch anything.  If that were the case, why bother with more than one net?  Yes, maybe it was a lack of faith that kept him from complete obedience.

Or perhaps it was the inconvenience of it all that caused him to hold back.  The beginning verses tell us the disciples had already cleaned their nets.  If Peter were to cast them back into the sea, they’d have to clean them again.  Who wants to do all that work twice?  

Or, it could be that Peter thought he knew better.  Yes, Jesus said cast out the nets, but surely one would be sufficient.  I mean, it’s not like it really matters, right?

But it did matter.  It mattered a lot.  And Peter realized it, but by then, it was too late.  The net had already broken, and the fish had already gotten away.  And Peter was sorry.  Sorry he hadn’t gone all in.  Sorry he hadn’t obeyed Jesus to the letter.  Sorry he hadn’t received God’s best.  And perhaps even sorry that he had cost others a portion of their livelihood because of his lack of faith.  Peter held back, and it cost him dearly.  Even though he experienced a miracle, he couldn’t rejoice in it because he realized he missed out on so much more.

What’s holding you back today?  What’s keeping you from casting out all your nets?  What is it that’s preventing you from obeying God completely?  Whatever it is, I urge you to learn from Peter’s mistake.  Don’t miss out on God’s best and settle for good enough.  It’s not worth it.  God has so much in store for each of us, but sadly we never get to see the extent of it because we haven’t fully surrendered to God.  He’s urging us to cast out our nets today.  All the nets, so not one single blessing gets away.  Will you obey completely, or will you hold back?  The choice is yours, but remember, that choice may affect others as well.  Don’t be responsible for the ones that got away!

Another Song in the Night

This is a difficult week for us. In addition to preparing for a LONG stretch of travel to various mission conferences, we are in the midst of a local mission conference, striving to finish fixing up the house and looking for a home for Barnabas. If the house isn’t finished before we leave (which is very likely to be the case), we’ll simply have to deal with the last minute details when we can; however, we must find a home for Barnabas before we leave on Saturday, and we’ve had no leads. We’re both tired and feeling the stress of all that must be done. But through it all, we are clinging to the truth of this song, and I wanted to share it with you today for all of you who—like us—are weary in well-doing.

1 Comment
Print Friendly and PDF

A Little Strength

I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
— Revelation 3:8

Each time I come across this verse, I’m reminded of its usage in my favorite movie, Facing the Giants. Though it is a film centered around a football team (which is typically not my thing), the spiritual applications within the movie have impacted my life in so many ways.

Grant is a failing coach with a losing team. His house is falling apart. His car breaks down regularly. And though he and his wife long to have a family of their own, the possibility of conceiving seems unlikely at best. On the verge of losing all faith and hope, Grant is visited by an older gentleman who claims to have a message from God. The man reads Revelation 3:8, which encourages Grant to view life from a different perspective—God’s perspective.

I won’t tell you the outcome because I don’t want to spoil the ending if you haven’t seen it, but I wanted to outline the premise for those of you who can relate. Those who are frustrated about things being harder than they should be, taking longer than they’re supposed to, and leaving you grasping for any thread of hope. You’re tired. You’re weary. You’ve tried so hard to serve God, but it seems like your only reward is fatigue and frustration. You’re ready to quit and looking for one good reason to keep going.

To you, my dear one, God offers these words: “I know thy works.” Yes, God is keeping track. He is aware of your faithfulness. He knows all you do for Him and is working on your behalf night and day. He loves you and wants only what is best for you. So. . .

He has set before you an open door that no man can shut. Yes, my friend, God has made a way. He has opened that door of opportunity. Of ministry. Of relationship. He has given you something to do, and it’s up to you to do it.

Then, notice this next phrase: “for thou hast a little strength.” Not a lot. Just a little. Just enough to grasp that last thread of patience. Just enough to keep your mouth shut when you want to tell that coworker what you think. Just enough to keep from throwing in the towel. A little strength.  

It doesn’t sound like much of a compliment, does it? But, in God’s eyes, a child with a little strength is much better than a mighty warrior king. The strong are self-sufficient. They think they can do anything and everything. They have no need of God. Those with just a little strength, on the other hand, are at the point where they have nothing left to give, and they know it. In their weakness, they are made strong because it is when they turn it all over to God. And so, God looks on and says, “Yes, she has a little strength. I can do something with that.”

This verse has reverberated in my mind over the past couple of weeks. As I’ve crawled on my hands and knees to stretch protective coverings over the floor and climbed ladders to tape off the moldings around the house, I’ve heard God’s voice reminding me, “You have a little strength. That’s good. I can use that. I can multiply that. I can use that weakness to show you just how strong I am.”

Sometimes a little strength is all you need. Hang in there, dear one. God is doing a mighty work. Look for those open doors and rely on His power. He’ll see you through.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
— II Corinthians 12:9