Peter had been fishing all night, but his fishing nets remained empty. Luke chapter 5 tells us the story set at the Sea of Galilee. After a long night of unsuccessful work, Peter and his business partners were cleaning and maintaining their nets on the shore. Jesus had been teaching people that gathered through the day, and when the crowd surged around him, he stepped into a nearby boat that belonged to Peter.
When Jesus finished teaching, he told Peter to push out into deep water and lower the nets for a catch. Peter knew the best time for fishing in deep water in the Sea of Galilee was at night and that daylight hours were for shallow water fishing. He followed Jesus’ instructions anyway. Peter and his colleagues caught such an overwhelming quantity of fish that their nets began to break and filled up two boats. This moment became a turning point for Peter who soon left his nets and boat behind to follow Jesus.
Would you take a moment and consider, not the boat teeming with freshly caught fish, but the empty nets from the prior day’s unsuccessful labor? If Peter’s fishing expedition from the previous day had been successful as he had hoped and planned, then…
- His boat would not have been available for Jesus.
- The miraculous, super-abundant catch would never have happened.
- Peter may have never left fishing to follow Jesus.
Now, think about your “empty net” days and nights. These disappointments when life hasn’t worked out according to plan may be far more common than the days when our boat overflows with abundance. Our nets are empty in a variety of ways:
- You or someone you love faces an unexpected illness or loss.
- You have failed.
- You’ve been passed over for promotion… again.
- You feel the sting of betrayal by someone close to you.
- Your business suffers a setback or your job is eliminated.
What do your empty nets look like? No one asks for empty nets, failed plans, or frustration. But, sometimes our emptiness becomes the catalyst for Jesus to fill our life with his good gifts… with deepening trust, open-handed generosity, uncommon compassion, unexpected opportunities. May God give us the insight to thank him for our empty nets.
P.S. I’m looking forward to being on the Sea of Galilee this February. A few more seats are now available for this trip of a lifetime. Visit the Templeton Tours website, click on Holy Land Tours, and scroll down to Pastor Tom Oyler for more information.
Teaching & Executive Pastor of Ministries