We all have visions of what life will be like when we reach a certain age, then life happens and it's not at all what we expected. No one thinks at 45, 50, 55, 60 (if they ever think of themselves being that old) that they will be looking for a job and starting over; or dealing with middle aged weight gain, teenagers who think they are stupid, and a loss of dreams.
We think we'll be like the commercials - going on vacations to Disney with children who think we are wonderful, eating out with friends who are as witty as we are, and taking romantic cruises with our spouse who still thinks we are the "cat's meow." Instead, life gives us vacations at home because there's not enough money, eating at the drive thru while we rush from one appointment to another, and if we are lucky, falling asleep in front of the tv with our spouse because that's about all the energy we have left. Oh yes, life also gives us an endless supply of bills, bills, bills - and not the spending kind! I don't know about you, but this is definitely not where I thought I'd be...
I got to wondering, did the disciples ever feel that way, too? When I thought about this, my mind went back to the last chapter of John. I imagined the disciples there, sitting on a boat (John 21: 1-3) and thinking this is not where they thought they'd be at all.
They had followed Jesus for years and were expecting Him to usher in His Kingdom, and instead He'd been crucified. They had made it through those painful three days before the resurrection, and had seen Him face to face once again. So how come they are back where they started - sitting in that fishing boat? Not just back in the same boat - it was even worse. This time they were catching NOTHING! (Been there a few times myself!)
Along comes Jesus, who of course they don't recognize. (I have to admit this is of some comfort to me when I fail to recognize the voice of God in my own life...I mean, the disciples missed it a time or two themselves and look at all they had seen!) Jesus calls out to them and says "You don't have any fish, do you:" Gee, thanks for rubbing salt into the wound whoever you are! There's nothing like having someone else point out just how fruitless your work has become. They had started out following Jesus on the adventure of a lifetime, but now they were right back where they'd started, and it seemed like nothing they tried was working anymore.
Yet Jesus tells them to cast their nets out again, trusting nothing but His Word this time. You know the story, they bring in so many fish they can barely pull the net into the boat! (vs 6)
Fast forward to the beach, (vs 9) and the disciples find Jesus with a fire built and fish already cooking...seems He didn't have to wait on what they brought to the table. He invited the disciples to bring what they had caught as well, but it wasn't with their catch that He fed them. It was what He provided. What a beautiful picture of bringing our offering to the table and instead of asking God to bless what we're doing, joining in with what He already has planned.
I heard a Christian recording artist say recently that he was no longer asking that God use him to make the difference, but simply that God make the difference. His ego was out of the picture, he simply wanted God's will to be done no matter who He chose to use in the process....even if that meant NOT using him. In turn, it seems that God has used him more than ever!
Back to the disciples. I kind of get the feeling that they were then where some of us find ourselves now - not where they'd expected to be. This wasn't how life was supposed to turn out. Their dreams had died and even though they knew God was still God, they figured it was pretty much over for them. But God had something else in mind....He told them to throw their nets on the other side. They were not done yet.
Maybe that's what God is saying to us today? Maybe it's not time to let the dream die...maybe it's time to cast the dream again only this time in a different way. Maybe, just maybe, He's not done with us yet.
I have to wonder will we be as surprised as those disciples were when our nets/dreams come back full this time. Will we be just as amazed when no matter how full, the nets don't break? And will we be fed when we bring our offering to add in to what He is already doing in the earth?
Life has a funny way of taking you on a journey you weren't expecting. At this point in my life, this isn't where I thought I'd be....but I can't wait to see where He takes me from here. I hope to see you on the journey...and that we catch a lot of fish this time!
I'd love to hear from you...what dreams is God telling you to "cast out" one more time?
*This was a repost from five years ago....but it surprised me how much I needed to read it again, because it is as true to me today as it was back then. I guess life sort of goes in cycles...
This is why I write - to remind myself of what God is saying and to get some perspective on things. Thank you for learning with me.
Jesus and the Miraculous Catch of Fish
1Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias.[a] It happened this way: 2Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3"I'm going out to fish," Simon Peter told them, and they said, "We'll go with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?" "No," they answered. 6He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. 7Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, "It is the Lord," he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.[b] 9When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. 10Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you have just caught." 11Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." None of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.