“Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, ‘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.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large amount of fish.” (John 21:4-6).
“Elaine, haven’t you any fish?”
“No, Lord, and to be honest with you, I don’t much feel like fishing today.”
“Well, you’re already in the boat; why not throw your net on the right side and see what’s stirring beneath those seemingly empty waters.”
“I’m tired; I’ve been at this for a long time. I can’t believe there’s anything to gain by my fishing, but because you say so, I will cast my net in your direction.”
And so I do, and here I am… casting my net this morning upon the waters of my “usual.” I may not be in a boat on the Galilean waters, but, like the disciples, I’m doing today what I normally do most days… living the life I usually live, while holding the resurrecting truth of Jesus within my heart and wondering where he’d have me “cast” it this day.
We’ve all been charged with the fishing, friends—with the casting of Christ’s net in a right and good direction. Everyone who harbors the truth of Jesus within and is anchored to God’s grace is assigned with the task of liberally dispensing that truth and grace to others so that they might hold truth as their own. Our fishing reels and rods are uniquely designed with our giftings in mind. Not everyone will cast their nets from a boat; some will cast them from a pulpit, from a classroom, from a hospital, from an office. Some from music, from acting, from persuasive speech, from words. Some from a soup kitchen, a barber shop, a check-out line, a prison cell. Some from a kitchen, a garden, a sewing room, a mailroom.
It matters not the venue we’ve been given. What matters is engaging with God’s question when it is given.
“Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
It was a fair question for Jesus to ask his disciples from the beach that morning. After all, they’d heard it before… in those beginning days when Christ first challenged them to no longer catch fish, but to catch men. They responded to his call by throwing their nets at his command and, eventually, throwing down their nets to follow after the sound of his voice and the heart of his eternal matters. In doing so, their hearts were intricately woven to his and were willing to move forward with his “next” for their lives. But as so often is the case with Christ’s calling upon lives—theirs and ours—the “next” sometimes seems vague, veiled and not yet perfectly clear to the believing heart.
Like Peter, John, and the rest of the fishing crew, we default to fishing in familiar waters without the parallel direction from our Father. Those waters may be well-intentioned ones, well-deserving of some time and attention. But if not directed to fish there, if instead we choose to cast our nets there without God’s corresponding “thumbs up,” then like our brothers of yesterday, we often walk away from those expeditions with empty nets and the subsequent “drain” that comes from casting those nets on the wrong waters.
Jesus didn’t tell his disciples to stop fishing and to immediately come to shore. No, what he told them was to cast their nets on the right side of the boat… the better side of the boat where, apparently, there were 153 eager fish awaiting a net’s retrieval. It was then that the disciples’ eyes were opened to the revelation of who awaited them on the shore.
When they fished in the “right” direction, God increased their return by 153 percent. Sit with that concept for a moment and with God’s initial question, and allow them to speak a fresh word into your soul this morning.
“Haven’t you any fish?”
When God asks a question of his children in Scripture, he’s asking it of us as well. His questions are his invitations to us to join him sacred conversation. He means for them to jump off the pages of our Bibles to become a “now” word for us as we go about our ordinary lives with an extraordinary Friend. Questions are God’s way of casting his reel and rod into the depths of our hearts and minds so that we might further probe them for an honest answer.
If I look around me this morning, I see little evidence of a net’s catch. I see dust accumulating on wooden furniture, a basket of clothes needing washed, remnants of last night’s popcorn fest on my living room carpet, and a dining room table filled with miscellaneous “stuff” that needs my eventual attention. Good waters to tend to, but not waters that will yield the kind of catch that God’s after this day. I could have given in to their immediate insistence—could have walked away from Christ’s question in order to accomplish my ever-growing “to do” list, but in doing so, I would have missed an opportunity to cast my net in a good and right direction—one in keeping with God’s kingdom agenda.
The net has been thrown, friends; the words have been written. I believe that you reside somewhere on the “right” side of my morning expedition. May God reside there as well, tending to your heart and in your answering of his question as only he can.
“Haven’t you any fish?”
Throw your nets on the right side of the boat today, and see if our Father’s faithfulness isn’t waiting there to fill them.
Fish well this week. Fish for the kingdom. I’ll see you on the shore where we will share in the bounty of a good and right obedience. As always…
peace for the journey,
PS: Where is God telling you to cast your net this day? What right and good direction has God allowed you kingdom influence in this season of living? When has the “catch” he’s given you exceeded your expectation? I’d love to hear a witness along these lines