Empty Nets

by Michelle Welch

“So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.”
John 21:3b NLT

“Simon answered,”Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.”
Luke 5:5 NIV

20130325_01aAll night. Twelve long hours of darkness and eventual discouragement. Not just sitting all night but doing backbreaking mindless work that requires hours of waiting between the hauling in of the nets. A night that probably started out with such great hope for a successful catch. A night that started out with chatter and song, strong arms and backs ready to work that soon became a night of weary hearts, sore muscles, and worry for how they would explain that they had failed at their one and only job.

How like these two scriptures my life sometimes seems. I head out into the day which quickly turns to night and then to day again only to find myself facing the fact that it seemed I failed at all that I have been asked to do. I start out with such anticipation, such joy, such eagerness for the work. But as the minutes turn into hours and the long night seems to get even longer, I begin to waver in my faith at the promise that if I will do what I have been tasked to do, I will receive my reward.

20130325_02aI sat in tears this morning, pondering the outcome of a huge praying event, wondering why God had seemingly set me out on a course of action, giving me peace in the journey, only to come up empty handed in the end. Where was the promised reward for my long hours spent in darkness, my heartfelt effort that made my knees sore and my soul ache with pleading? Had I failed somehow? Had I not done all that I was expected to do? Should I have prayed a different scripture, asked the question in a different way?

20130325_03aIn weariness I came to Him just as the sun came up this morning. Discouraged and empty, I threw myself down at his feet. Gently He helped me up, wiped my tears away and seated me beside Him. He reminded me of His own prayer just before He was crucified. “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not mine.” Luke 22:42 NLT.

I felt new tears welling up as I realized that He had endured so much more than I would ever endure. He had felt grief that I will never have to feel. He had worked longer hours than I would ever have to work. Yet sometimes even He had asked God for some relief.

Luke 1:78 NLT reminded me that “Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,”. It will not be dark forever. The morning will always come. God will always provide if we continue to do His will. Even Peter, in his exhaustion and discouragement, replied “But because you say so, I will let down the nets. When they had done so they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.” Luke 5:5-6 NIV and again in John 21:6 NLT “So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.”

20130325_04aI may be called to work long hours in the darkness with no sign of a successful end. I may be on my knees longer than I am on my feet. My soul may ache from the sight of a continued empty net, even after I think I have done all that He asked me to do. But when the time is right, when He is ready (and not a moment before), when I think I have not one workable muscle left in me, He will tell me where to cast my net and I will be so overwhelmed with His Glory and Grace that I will be unable to contain it all.

Dearest Father God, I am humbled by Your time with me this morning. For who am I that You would consent to sit beside me. I lift my heart and hands to praise You this morning. You are the Light at the end of a long dark night. You have promised me that morning will always come. You have given me more than I ever deserve. You have filled my nets to the bursting and made me successful when I felt like a failure. I am all that I am because of You and only because of You. Build in me a heart for Your work Lord. Show me how to make my life all about You. Thank You Father for all that You give me, even when I don’t deserve even one thing. Thank You for loving me so much. In the Name of Christ Jesus I pray, Amen.

Copyright © 2013, Michelle Welch, all rights reserved, Breath of Life Women’s Ministries. Photography by Michelle Welch, All rights reserved.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission. Also scripture used from NLT.

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