Straight from a Reminded Heart
By Lisa Elliott
I have a great memory! It just happens to be short when it comes to certain things; in particular, things the Lord has taught me that perhaps I should have taken closer note of the first time ‘round. Therefore, I love it when He graciously reminds me of a simple truth or lesson He’s taught me by bringing it to my attention in a whole new light, in a completely different context. Don’t you? Don’t you marvel when His ancient words strike a chord in your heart that applies to your life in a fresh, meaningful, and relevant way? When He speaks an old familiar message that refreshes your heart? At a time when you need it most?
This happened to me recently. As I prayerfully made my way through the gospel of John my heart paused and took notice of chapter 21:1-14
John tells us that after a long night of fishing the disciples have nothing to show for it. They are weary. They are discouraged. (He had my attention immediately!) Their Lord, Jesus, had died. And although they’d witnessed Him in His resurrected body on a few occasions, they’d somewhat lost hope and returned to what they knew best—fishing. However, things weren’t going so well. They were at the end of their ropes, quite literally. Suddenly Jesus appeared on the shore and while they didn’t immediately realize it was Him He called out “Friends haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some”. They had barely cast their nets into the water when such an overwhelming surplus of fish filled them, they could hardly contain them much less reel them in.
Have you been there? I felt like I was right in the boat with the disciples. And I could almost hear the Lord’s voice calling out to me, “Lisa, haven’t you any fish? Have you run out of your own resources? Are you weary? Do you need some of my advice? Do you need my help?”
Why this passage jumped out to me was because I had just read this passage a few days earlier in Luke. Or so I thought.
Luke 5:4-11 records, “When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’ Simon answered and said, ‘Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.’ When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink.”
At first glance, I thought I was reading the same story (which often occurs throughout the gospels as one author gives the same account from a different perspective). That is, until I noticed a few things weren’t quite lining up. To begin with, in Luke, Jesus was in the boat with the men whereas in John He is standing on the shore. In Luke, Jesus instructs them to head for deeper waters, while John’s account simply has them casting on the other side of the boat. Luke speaks of two boats being involved, whereas John speaks only of one. And then I saw it. And realized that in fact, this wasn’t the same story at all! Rather, John’s account was the second time this entire scene had played out! Luke’s account took place at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry when He called the disciples to leave their nets and learn how to fish for men. The passage in John took place after Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Apparently I wasn’t the only one having a déjà vu moment after all. The disciples were too! The question is why did Jesus feel the need to re-enact this miracle all over again? Could it be He needed to remind the weary disciples of His ongoing provision? Did they need to be reassured of His calling in their lives? Did they need a fresh dose of encouragement, renewed perspective, and restored hope? Likely they needed all the above. I know I did! And maybe you do too.
Sometimes in life, in ministry, in relationships, when resources are slim, in circumstances that drag on with no end in sight, with no productivity, and no hope, I grow weary. And I need a reminder that the “and-then-some” God of surplus and abundance is still able to do immeasurably more than all I ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20). Can you relate? Perhaps you, too, have been up all night fishing with nothing to show for it? Maybe you’ve been casting your net fishing for souls, fishing for your livelihood, fishing for hope, fishing for wisdom, fishing for a friend, fishing for direction but to no avail. Your efforts seem futile and you’re getting weary.
Let me remind you, just as I was reminded and just as the disciples were reminded long ago, that there is One who is standing on the shoreline calling out to you. “Friend haven’t you caught anything? Why don’t you try casting your net the other side of the boat?” Although it may seem a little absurd or even risky, I can assure you it will be worth the catch. Before you know it, you’ll be eating fish that the Lord Himself has already caught and prepared for you. And you’ll be reminded afresh that His provision is still as ample and abundant as it was the first time (and the second, and the third…)
Just don’t give up. Take time to remember His faithfulness in the past. Trust Him. Then, by faith, do what He’s asking you to do, even if it doesn’t make any sense. Let down your nets… one more time. And I pray that the God who specializes in abundance will bless your heart with the overflow.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Gal. 6:9).
About this Contributor:
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally, she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
To book Lisa for a weekend retreat or day conference contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org