If You Stay On The Boat, you’ll Miss Jesus.
Disappointments can blind you from pursuing your calling and if we chose to stay on the boat of our setbacks, stubbornly casting our nets out into our old ways of living, hoping to catch something, anything to fill the holes of loss and regret, then we will miss Jesus when He’s wanting us to get out of the boat of our past life and start living in the calling He has for us.
I can’t think of a worse place to be than sitting on the boat of your old ways and habits and miss Jesus showing up. Why do we stay on the boat of our past and feel all the tension of knowing that we’ve been so impacted and so stretched by God over the years, and yet we still chose to stay on the boat regardless? We cannot possibly believe God wants us to go back to our old ways of living, surely? Yet we’re stuck. We’re stuck in the boat because we cannot see Jesus. We let the murky waters of our questioning fill the space of what to do next, as we find ourselves throwing out our nets over and over again, hoping to catch something, anything from our old lives that gives us a sense of worth and value.
You’re not alone. This is exactly where we find the disciples in John chapter 21. Sitting in their old fishing boat hoping their old ways and old habits and old nets could catch something, anything to make sense of what just happened. Stunned and shocked by Jesus’ crucifixion, His untimely death meant the disciples believed it was the death of their calling too. Everything He had taught them over the past three years, all the miracles and amazing things they had done was now gone. So, they did what any sensible person would do, they went back to something they knew.
Despondent, disappointed and filled with regret, Simon Peter tells the disciples that he’s going fishing and they decide that they’ll join him in the boat. Peter went back to his old career, his old ways and habits with the belief that his dream to change the world, his purpose and destiny to become everything Jesus told him he was going to become was now gone forever.
“Then at dawn, Jesus was standing there on the shore, but the disciples didn’t realize that it was him! He called out to them, saying, “Hey guys! Did you catch any fish?” “Not a thing,” they replied. (John 21: 4-5)
I don’t know about you, dear friend, but I’ve been in the same boat when it comes to my dreams. I’ve decided to “go fishing” for other jobs rather than seeing Jesus on the seashore who is in my, dreams, destiny, purpose, calling and future. You see, when we go back to what feels familiar, we try to suppress the feelings that remind our hearts that we’ve seen too much and we know too much of God to go back to our old lives. However, the feelings of fear override our faith and we become too afraid, too frightened to step out into what Jesus has for us in our future because we’ve lost sight of Him.
And, like the disciples, if we go back to our familiar ways, we catch NOTHING and we allow fear to blind us from seeing Jesus.
Jesus shouted to them, “Throw your net over the starboard side, and you’ll catch some!” And so, they did as he said, and they caught so many fish they couldn’t even pull the net! Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Peter heard him say that he quickly wrapped his outer garment around him and because he was athletic, he dove right into the lake to go to Jesus! (John 21:6-7)
When we come to the end of this story, we tend to think that the ‘so many fish’ was the miracle they’d been waiting for. It’s true, it was indeed a miracle. However, what if there is more to this story than the many fish? What if Jesus was testing the disciples to see if they were going to go back to their career or continue in their calling?
The test of the many fish, I believe, was Jesus finding out where the disciple’s loyalty and hearts lay. Were they still willing to step out of the comfort zone of their old fishing boat, out of their old ways and old habits and follow Jesus once again, even though they’d caught so many fish in the nets? Or choose the safe and secure route of familiar?
Now, I’m not saying throw caution to the wind and leave your career behind. That’s between you and God. But what I am saying is this; if you’re tired of staying on the boat of setbacks and disappointments, if you’re over sitting in the waters of familiar, and if you’re sick to the back teeth of throwing your nets out and catching nothing, then maybe, just maybe it’s time to look toward the seashore, climb out of the boat and follow your calling.
Because if you stay on the boat, you’ll miss Jesus.
Where have you ‘stayed on the boat’ and been too afraid to step into the future Jesus has promised you?