Sometimes I feel like I do all the right things and try my darndest but see zero results for my efforts. No matter what “formula” I follow, it never seems to be the right one.
This happens in my regular life and in my spiritual walk.
With regards to my spiritual walk, this frustration can grow and turn to bitterness or apathy. I either become frustrated with God and His Church or I settle into a routine and fail to seek great depth in my spiritual life.
Lack of results can be frustrating but it could also be that we’re looking at this the wrong way.
And when He [Jesus] had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” Luke 5: 4
A catch can only be made when the nets are down. Without lowered nets, a boat is just floating along. So, a practiced fisherman studies and learns. He knows the right times to fish and all the right places. He hones his skills and all the right things are done at, what history proves, is the right time.
Simon Peter was that fisherman. He knew the waters and the fish. He knew that Jesus had not yet told him to stopping fishing. Fishing was what he was supposed to be doing. And yet, “Simon answered, ‘Master, we toiled all night and took nothing!'” (v 5)
I often feel this way in my own life. I know generally what God has called me to. I’ve launched out and taken the necessary steps to accomplish what He’s called me to. I’ve been learning and studying. All the right things are happening in all the right ways and still nothing is happening. My nets are down and I’m not seeing the return I wanted.
Do you ever feel that way? Like you’re following God but getting no where?
It’s when the frustration has brought us back to shore that Jesus often gives the instructions to go back out.
Like Peter, we often respond with, “But I’ve already been working so hard and it was all for nothing!” However, Peter teaches a valuable lesson when he continues in his response to Jesus, “But at your word I will let down the nets.”
Peter had to be frustrated. Fishing was his lively-hood. It’s how he made his money and supplied for his family. He had probably been fishing for years and Jesus was a carpenter.
But if Jesus said to go back and put the nets out again then Peter was going to do it.
And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. Luke 5: 6
The timing for something may be perfect by human standards but God doesn’t work according to human standards. He has his own timing. His ways and thoughts are not like ours (Isaiah 55: 8-9). Instead, they are so much better.
Our obedience only glorifies Him when it happens according to His plans. If our work and toil could make it happen then we could take the credit. The magnificent, God- glorifying miracle can only come when we are obedient (and listening) for His timing.
God may lead us to water. He may not even tell us to stop doing whatever it is that we are doing. Our action is not disobedience, it’s preparation for when He sends us back out.
We must remain faithful with the work before us and we must not allow ourselves to become bitter in our efforts. Bitterness will only prevent us from being obedient when He tells us to go back and do it again. Obedience, despite how we feel, will produce the result that most glorifies God.
And glorifying God was what we were created to do.
“But” obedience it’s the most glorious thing. We don’t like to admit, “Yeah, I argues with God and thought He was an idiot but I did it anyway. I think part of me was hoping to prove Him wrong. My bad.”
However, But Obedience is still obedience. It’s not glamorous and it’s usually a little embarrassing for us in the end but it’s a choice we made. We choose to be obedience, even in our frustration or we choose to ignore God because “we’ve already tried that.”
If, like me, you feel like you’re spinning your wheels, keep going. And when it comes time to do this thing again, thank God for the practice you had and go back and do it again!