A man who spent a fruitless day fishing picked out three fat fish at the supermarket. “Before you wrap them,” he said to the store manager,” toss them to me, one by one. That way I’ll be able to truthfully tell my wife I caught them.” Have you ever gone fishing and come back empty-handed? That’s why they call it fishing not catching. The other day I went fishing with my kids and nephew and we caught 24! What a great time they had! While fun, it was a lot of work for me as I baited hooks, took fish off the lines, untangled lines, and dug up worms. One of the kids was really getting frustrated because they had not caught any and the other two had caught several. They were ready to give up and go home but I just had to keep reminding them to be patient. They eventually caught the same number as the rest of the kids.
Have you ever been stressed out to the point of giving up? Sometimes its right to hang a sign on the door that says “gone fishing” and get away for a moment from the daily grind. But quitting on your purpose when it gets confusing, difficult, or tiring is wrong. After Jesus died, Peter must have been anxious while waiting on Jesus to show back up and He decided to return to his former profession of being a fisherman. He even convinced the other disciples to go with him. He was ready to walk away from his ministry and calling. Peter was ready to hang up his prayer shawl and pick up his fishing nets. In John 21:3-4, Peter said, “‘I am going fishing.’ They said to him, ‘We are going with you also.’ They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing.” How depressing! That’s the story of most of my fishing trips.
There is nothing worse than going fishing all day and going home empty. Especially in their case of already feeling empty after the crucifixion. Perhaps this was God’s way of illustrating how unfulfilling Peter’s life was before being radically changed by Jesus? Why would he ever expect to find purpose and fulfillment in fishing again? He was just running away from it all. Here is where the story gets interesting. While the disciples were out hopelessly fishing, Jesus appeared to them but did not reveal His identity. He called to them from the shore and asked if they had caught anything. After answering no, the disciples were told by Jesus to cast their nets to the other side and when they did, they could not lift all the fish. Amazing! Jesus directed the fish into their nets. Peter instantly recognized the work of Jesus and realized how foolish he was by waiting on fish instead of waiting on his Master. With a new vigor in his step, Peter leaped aboard and dragged all 153 fish to shore by himself!
Jesus reinstated Peter to the ministry and just a few days later 3,000 souls were saved and baptized as a result of his preaching. Talk about fulfilling your calling! Don’t give up on what God has called you to do. Jesus is so gracious and loving that He desires to guide you every step of the way. Maybe you need to jump out of the unfruitful plans you have and embrace the purpose He has for you? Be patient – wait on the Lord. Don’t settle for something less than God’s best.
Stephen and his wife Haley have called Arkansas home all of their lives. Stephen has served in several ministry roles over the last 25 years and as a lead pastor for the last 8 years. Stephen attended Williams Baptist College and earned a BA in Biblical Studies from Ouachita Baptist University, an MA, MDiv, and DMin in Christian Leadership and Pastoral Ministries from Liberty University. When not pastoring, Stephen enjoys running, cycling, reading, writing, camping, fishing, and spending time with his family.
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