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.
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!