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Empty nets can lead to unexpected opportunities

Titus O'Bryant • Apr 7, 2020 at 11:00 AM

Editor’s Note: With so many churches in our area having to suspend worship services during the coronavirus pandemic, we are asking local pastors to partner with us in bringing a daily message of hope and comfort to readers during this difficult time.

Peter had been fishing all night, but his fishing nets remained empty. Luke chapter 5 tells us the story set at the Sea of Galilee. After a long night of unsuccessful work, Peter and his business partners were cleaning and maintaining their nets on the shore. Jesus had been teaching people that gathered through the day, and when the crowd surged around him — he stepped into a nearby boat that belonged to Peter.

When Jesus finished teaching, he told Peter to push out into deep water and lower the nets for a catch. Peter knew the best time for fishing in deep water in the Sea of Galilee was at night and that daylight hours were for shallow water fishing. He followed Jesus’ instructions anyway. Peter and his colleagues caught such an overwhelming quantity of fish their nets began to break and filled up two boats. This moment became a turning point for Peter, who soon left his nets and boat behind to follow Jesus.

Would you take a moment and consider, not the boat teeming with freshly caught fish, but the empty nets from the prior day’s unsuccessful labor? If Peter’s fishing expedition from the previous day had been successful as he had hoped and planned, then his boat would not have been available for Jesus, the miraculous catch would never have happened, and Peter may have never left fishing to follow Jesus.

Now, think about your “empty net” days and nights. Maybe you’re feeling like you’ve had a string of empty net days with more to come in the future. What do your empty nets look like — failure, loss, fear? No one asks for empty nets, but sometimes our emptiness becomes the catalyst for Jesus to fill our life with his good gifts … with deepening trust, open-handed generosity, uncommon compassion, unexpected opportunities. Let’s ask God to give us the insight to be thankful for our empty nets and the faith to believe our emptiness will turn into abundance.

Titus O’Bryant is executive pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Johnson City.

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