Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 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, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
How often in our lives, I wonder, does God ask us do something something, and we respond, “But I did that already!” Sometimes we are reluctant because we feel like we were already successful once. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from being a musician, it’s that once you get something right you should always do it ONE MORE TIME! Goodness knows my students get tired of hearing those three words, but in all things repetition is the key to success. But more often, I think, we are reluctant to try again when previous attempts were complete failures. We think, “Well, it didn’t work the first hundred times, why would it work now?” According to Thomas Edison, he failed at making a light bulb 2,000 times before he succeeded. (Actually, I think that quote is an urban-myth as Thomas Edison did not, in fact, invent the light bulb, but it’s still a great quote.) But he only needed to succeed ONCE. With God’s help anything is possible. And keep in mind, he doesn’t necessarily call us to do things in the same way. In John 21, a very similar story to this one, Jesus tells the disciples to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. I’m sure Thomas Edison didn’t try to make a light bulb the exact same way 2,000 times. Try something new!
So go ahead, cast your net one more time. When God is ready, you’ll catch more than your boat can hold.
The other huge challenge of this story is to leave everything behind to follow Jesus. The disciples could not physically go with Jesus if they tried to bring all their fishing gear. They wouldn’t have made it 100 yards trying to drag a boat with them! So even if God isn’t calling you to leave behind everything as the disciples did, He does want you to leave behind anything that stops you from following Jesus. Nothing is more important that your relationship with God. Not your job, money, your favorite food, fashion, not even your spouse (Peter presumably left even his wife behind to follow Jesus). If something is holding you back, leave it. If it’s really important, God will make sure it’s still there when you come back.