Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

7 Time Alone With God in the Failure

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John 21: 3-14

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.  4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.  5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”    “No,” they answered.  6 He 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.   7 Then 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. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.[b] 9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.  10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”  11 Simon 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. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Are there times when you want to turn away from Jesus and go back to the way things were before he came into your life? When the worries and concerns of life sweep you away and circumstances overwhelm you to the point of turning away. The Disciples had given up their world to follow this Jesus, left families and careers, turning their back on the world to go on with Jesus. Yet at that critical moment when Jesus gave it all they gave in, turning away. Even Peter, who promised “Even if all fall away, I will not.” Mark 14:29 ran away.

Where do you go when you run away from Jesus? You always go back, back to what you did before Jesus. For the disciples back was fishing for fish even though Jesus had called them to be fishers of men “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19. They traded a life of significance for the insignificant. We turn back because faith is hard, because following Jesus is difficult so we slip back into our old ways. It may seem easier to go back but life without Jesus is still work, just work with nothing to show for it!  They spent all night working but with no success. What does life without Jesus really net you? Do you really want to toil in the darkness with nothing to show but an empty net?

It wasn’t until there was Jesus that they had success and their success did not come from their effort or knowledge it came from listening to Jesus and obeying Him. They may have been professional fishermen but Jesus was the one who created the fish. We may think we know best but it’s never enough on our own. They did not recognize Jesus, the one they had spent the last 3 years of their lives with! They had already seen the resurrected Jesus and yet they failed to recognize Him, how could this be? When your focus is on the failure and your direction is on your past it’s hard to see God even when He is right there.

Yet in the midst of failure, doubt and discouragement there is Jesus and notice how He addresses the disciples, the ones who denied Him, “friends” haven’t you any fish?”    Friends, Jesus desires a relationship and he cared about what they were doing and what was going on in their lives. His first response is to help them find success in failure! Jesus not only knew where to find the fish but where to find the fishermen! He was prepared for that moment, He met them were they were at, empty handed, discouraged, tired. He met them with the warmth of a fire and the smell of food. Jesus understands the hunger and cold of the old life.  Jesus came to forgive; He came to bring hope, faith, and the victory of love over sin and death. We too need to be reminded of the hope that comes through the forgiveness of the resurrected Savior. Jesus did all of this for free, no cost, no emotional black mail, no payment extracted or expected just Jesus sitting by a small fire on the banks of a lake inviting His disciples to breakfast.

Peter’s now had what he had spent all night trying to get, a full net of fish, what does he do? He abandons what just hours before he was working so hard to get. A full net seems empty compared to Jesus. With reckless abandon he jumps in, all in, swimming away from the boat (that represents his old life) and moving toward Jesus. When our focus is Jesus it doesn’t matter what else is in the net. Like Peter we can be all in. Are you tired are your nets empty with nothing to show for your hard work? As the early morning mists rise off the waters of your life do you see Jesus? Can you smell the wood smoke from a warm fire? Will you jump out of your empty boat and join Jesus for breakfast? Jesus invites you to come and be alone, it’s time for breakfast. You don’t have to run on empty any longer.  You don’t have to be bound to your past failures.  Jump in, trade your nets for life with Jesus.  “His mercies are new every morning” Lamentations 3:23

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