All night he struggled, toiling against the weather, against fatigue, even against his own attitudes, yet he came up empty… Peter and his buddies were now on land, having the heart wrenching task of cleaning nets that had betrayed them… preparing them for, possibly, another night of worthless fishing. It wasn’t his dream… it was his livelihood – no fish meant no dinner for the family, nothing to barter with or sell at the market. That night, Peter was worse than empty… he was destitute.
Along comes the traveling teacher, right to Peter… well, to Peter’s boat. “Can you take me out? Not too far, just enough so I can teach my followers”. Peter is nice about it, but is no doubt hiding his anger, not at the teacher, but at the night. “I’m not finished cleaning these @#$% nets… do I put them back in the boat now?”
He gets in the boat, sets out, letting the teacher do his thing, all the while thinking that he has to endure being in the setting that gave him nothing all night. Arms tired, back hurting, hungry, he hears nothing that the teacher is saying. He just wants a reboot. Maybe tomorrow will be different. Maybe, but now his pain is about to go to the next level.
“Let’s go fishing, Simon… out in the deep water. You brought your nets, didn’t you?” Peter’s attitude turns from anger at the night to disdain for the teacher. All night he toiled, when fish were supposed to be there. Again, this was not a hobby – it was his life. It was who he was. Going out now would just be ludicrous. “He just wants to rub it in… maybe he’s like the Pharisees, who just flaunt their lives in front of us… I guess I’ll just be his little object lesson… put down the nets… sure, Mr. Teacher…”
“Sure… even though I have been working all night and came up empty, just for you, I’ll do it. “
He drops the nets… wait, what’s going on? Fish are everywhere! So much so that they have to get the other guys who are still on shore to help.
Peter again… working the nets, but his mind working overtime…
“I don’t know him…”
“I don’t know him…”
“I don’t know him…”
The words – his words, screaming back at him. Every time he drops a net and it comes up empty, he hears it. In his mind he sees, not the seas’ betrayal, but his own. “I gave him nothing… when he needed it, I made sure he came up empty.”
Tired, frustrated, hungry, and even though he is with his friend, very alone, Peter drops the net again. As he does, he hears someone calling from the shore.
“How’s fishing going? Did you get anything?”
Peter looks at John with a look of disgust, then rage. Nothing in the boat but empty nets, and this guy throwing fuel on the fire…
“No… no fish”… Now maybe we can get back to realizing that we have nothing… that the last 3 years of our lives are over and empty… that everything we believed in and trusted in is gone. Drop a net… nothing again…
The man on the shore continues, “Hey, how about trying the other side of the boat… I’m sure you’ll find something there.” The other side of the boat? Are you kidding me? All night we’ve been at this… we’ve been all over this #$%^ lake, and he says, check the other side of the boat? Don’t you think we’ve tried that? Fine…
Peter drops the nets on the other side… fish are everywhere!
I love how Jesus engaged Peter, not when he was full, not when he had it all together, not when he was the “model disciple”. Both times he set Peter up to be thankful when he had absolutely nothing. I’m imagining Jesus speaking to Peter in both occasions… I’m sure he wasn’t this stoic man who spoke in monotone with no connection to the words he said (like how we picture him always speaking). Knowing what was coming, Jesus probably had a hard time containing his excitement over what was about to happen. Even when Peter’s responses were less than stellar, Jesus just egged him on, like someone who couldn’t wait for the person to open their gift.
One year ago, my son released his first CD. In the opening of one of the songs, Miscalled, he says, “I lost everything!”People around him would be quick to point out what he had, but I’m pretty sure no one would understand the depth of his statement until they heard the whole story. I understand the depths of despair that Jon experienced… that Peter experienced. I understand the feeling of fishing all night and coming up empty… of not just having nothing, but of losing it all…
This Thanksgiving morning I have been thinking, well, about a lot of things. I have felt a lot like Peter over the last year/years… a lot like Jon in Miscalled… it’s hard when this day forces an attitude of thankfulness, when all you want to do is clean your nets and do a reboot. I think though that Jesus likes using situations like this to give the gift of full nets… to bring me, and us, back to Thankfulness.
The nice thing, I guess is not that he made Peter rethink about his current situation. He didn’t make him appreciate all the other times he caught fish. He didn’t even require Peter to be thankful before he gave him the miracle. He just brought Peter along on His own journey, one which included the blessing of the fish. As He did, Peter’s focus changed: from toil and heartache to a relationship that could restore and enrich him. Sure, Peter’s external nets became full, but something else happened… the net of Peter’s soul filled to overflowing.
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus
Hanging out with Jesus, letting Jesus occupy your boat changes you, cuz when He starts egging you toward something, He is about to fill your nets.
So, I am thankful. Even though externally I may have lost it all… I may have toiled all night and came up empty, but I can trust that at the right time, the Teacher will come up on my shores and point me to the other side, or to the deep, wherever I don’t expect it, and will fill my nets.
Thanks… Full Nets… Thankfulness
Kid President is awesome 🙂 . Check out his list of things to be thankful for.
One year ago, BledJon came on the scene with The Popular Loner. A story of struggle, heartache, redemption and dreams renewed. The wonderful thing is that his dreams didn’t stop there, but continue to come true. I am so thankful for him, for his brother Josh/Demo, and his sister Imani… I couldn’t ask for better kids. You can listen to his CD on ITunes, Spotify, or just go to his website to download it, and be on the look out for The Leap of Faith coming out the beginning of 2017.