Do you ever feel that your efforts are useless or produce empty results? I think we’ve all been there, right? It can happen at the workplace, in the home, on the golf course, or anywhere. We are all hardwired to achieve success when we set out to accomplish a task.
Most recently, I diligently tried to revive my roses from all the damage they received due to a deluge of rain. To no avail, after spraying with anti-fungal product and mulching, etc., my roses still look pitiful, producing puny-looking blooms. Sometimes our best efforts result in poor or even empty results.
Obviously, producing beautiful fungi-free roses is not as crucial as raising spiritually healthy children. As much as I enjoy the beauty of a bountiful array of roses, my greatest joy comes from experiencing our children and grandchildren growing in the knowledge and wisdom of the LORD.
Sometimes my best efforts for transferring a strong faith in Jesus to my family ends up feeling empty, or at least less fruitful in my perception. For instance, this past year I started a drama/music ministry with our grandchildren. We named it Lights Shine Bright. They were excited to share their talents at nursing homes and churches. My grandeur plans also included presenting at a low-income children’s center. Seemingly, the door closed due to scheduling conflicts, and yes, I felt like my efforts came up empty. My desire is to see our grandchildren use their gifts and talents for the glory of the LORD, while sharing the love of Jesus with others.
I’m pretty sure the Apostle Peter felt as though his efforts were futile while fishing all night without even getting a nibble. This miraculous fishing story is recorded in the Gospel of John (John 2:1-14): Later, by the Sea of Tiberias, Jesus again revealed Himself to the disciples. He made Himself known in this way: Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. Simon Peter told them, “I am going fishing.”
“We will go with you,” they said. So they went out and got into the boat, but caught nothing that night.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not recognize that it was Jesus. So He called out to them, “Children, do you have any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
He told them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it there, and they were unable to haul it in because of the great number of fish.
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it) and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came ashore in the boat. They dragged in the net full of fish, for they were not far from land, only about a hundred yards.
When they landed, they saw a charcoal fire there with fish on it, and some bread.
Jesus told them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many, the net was not torn.
“Come, have breakfast,” Jesus said to them. None of the disciples dared to ask Him, “Who are You?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and He did the same with the fish.
This was now the third time Jesus appeared to the disciples after He was raised from the dead.
Take-aways from the truth of God’s Word
- Listen for God’s direction or leading in our lives, especially when our personal efforts seem empty.
- Initially, the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus on the shore. Then Jesus spoke these words: “Children, do you have any fish?”
- Follow God’s instructions. / Obey His commands.
- After hearing His voice, the disciples followed these instructions: “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.”
The outcome: “So they cast it there, and they were unable to haul it in because of the great number of fish.”
- Recognize God when He draws near. “None of the disciples dared to ask Him, “Who are You?” They knew it was the Lord.”
The disciples knew it was the LORD because they had spent three years developing an intimate relationship with Him.
The only way we can know it is the LORD is by spending time with Him. This happens primarily by…
Developing these spiritual disciplines:
- Reading the Bible
- Seeking God through quieting the noise of the world (Unplug!)
- Fellowship with other Christ followers
- Worship through a Bible-teaching/preaching church
These spiritual disciplines are more often caught than taught to our observing children and grandchildren. When is that last time your children/grandchildren caught you reading your Bible, kneeling next to your bed in prayer, turning off your cell phone while experiencing the beauty of God’s amazing creation (beginning with your family…sharing an uninterrupted meal together), worshiping together on the LORD’s Sabbath?
Remember, there are times God wants to redirect our efforts to reflect more of His holiness in our lives and within the lives around us. Our greatest need is to recognize the LORD in our midst rather than experiencing mere human successes.
I’m praying to God and listening for Him to speak to me about our Lights Shine Bright ministry. One of my grandsons keeps asking me, “When are we going to do our program again?” Thus, I am exploring our options and watching for God to lead the way.
Thoughts and Scripture to ponder
God may be asking you to let go of your preferred “fishing” style and be ready to cast your net on the “right” side. Follow God’s direction and be amazed at the results you will “catch!”
“Choose my instruction instead of silver,
knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
and nothing you desire can compare with her” (Proverbs 8:10-11).
“Now then, my children, listen to me;
blessed are those who keep my ways.
Listen to my instruction and be wise;
do not disregard it. Blessed are those who listen to me,
watching daily at my doors,
waiting at my doorway.
For those who find me find life
and receive favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 8:32-35).
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
The definition of insanity:
“Doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein
This quote is simply a reminder to stop repeating the same human efforts that continually produce empty results. Instead, listen to and follow the LORD’s direction, for He is the One who transforms the heart and produces a great catch.
For further study:
John 15:1-17; 1 Corinthians 3:7; Mark 4:1-20