At Your Word

Joel Sanchez 

"And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets."  Luke 5:4-5

There is a store that many single and newly married 20 something’s are very familiar with. Their products, though not meant to last a lifetime, are somewhat stylish, modern and, most importantly, affordable. I am referring to that Swedish mecca of inexpensive furniture and housewares known as IKEA. The only drawback, for those who are hand-tool and visually challenged, is that anything short of linens and candle sticks has to be assembled. Some time ago, I took a trip to IKEA to pick up a filing cabinet. I needed to bring some order to the mountains of papers, envelopes and documents that seemed to loom in every drawer of my apartment.

So, I brought the “yet to be assembled” filing cabinet home. I opened up the box, laid out all the tools and parts, read all of the directions from beginning to end, and began to build. An hour and a half later, I was angry and frustrated, odd pieces of wood and screws were all over my apartment. I was stuck on one step and just could not make any of the pieces fit. My roommate came home and upon seeing my frustration stated something along the lines of “maybe you have the one of the side boards backwards.” Now, I understand that he was trying to help, but honestly, I was not too sympathetic. Easy for him to say, he just showed up. I had been looking at the manual (even reading the Swedish instructions to see if those made more sense) for over an hour, I knew that wasn’t the problem! How annoying and frustrating it is when you have been working at something and you can’t seem to get it right and somebody comes along and says, “Hey, why don’t you try it this way,” or “why don’t you try some other time or some place or some other method.” How much more frustrating when we feel that the person knows much less about what we are doing than we do.

This is what came to mind when I read Luke 5:5. Peter and his men have been going at it all night. I presume they were tired, exhausted and maybe even a little frustrated. And here comes Jesus and says, “Let down the nets for a catch,” (Luke 5:4). I would imagine Peter saying, “Come again, excuse me? Uuum, we have been doing this ALL NIGHT man. You may know about preaching and stuff cause you’re the Messiah and I’ll even take carpentry advice from you because your father is a carpenter, but fishing is my life, this is what I do, I know what I’m doing. There is nothing there, trust me.” At least that’s what I would have said. But, for as much as we criticize Peter, here is a moment where he shines. Listen to his response. He does say “Master we have worked hard all night, and haven’t caught anything.” But then he strikes gold when he continues, “But because you say so, I will let down the nets (NIV). Somehow, in spite of how tired, exhausted and frustrated he was, Peter knew something about what Jesus could do. He trusted Him. Or maybe it was simply the fact that he was so tired and so exhausted and so frustrated that he would have been willing to do anything anyone suggested.

Life is sometimes like that. We set out to do what we always do, what we know how to do, what we have been trained to do, but somehow at the end of the day, we, like Peter say, “Jesus, I have been at this all night, all week, all year, all my life. It’s just not working this time.” And yet Jesus is able to look through that and say “throw your net again.” If we are so consumed and bitter about our past failures, we may just walk away in anger and frustration thinking that Jesus is not aware how long we have been trying and how little success we’ve had. But my prayer is that today, you will be able to say, like Peter, at Your word, Jesus; simply because you said so, I will try again. Though I want to give up and I want to walk away, bring in the net and go home, at Your word.

Of course, you know the story. Peter throws in the net and it practically breaks from the overwhelming amount of fish he catches. I could imagine Jesus looking at Peter with compassion as if telling him, “You see what happens when you trust me.” At which point I would have smiled and said, “You could have spared me all the trouble and just done the miracle right away.” But there is a lesson, many lessons as a matter of fact, that are learned as we toil and wait on Jesus. Whatever you do, don’t give up. I know you may have been at it all night, with your marriage, with your rebellious child, with your ill parent, with your finances, with your antagonistic boss, with your habitual sin, with the disappointments that come from living in a broken world. But whatever you do, don’t lose hope, don’t give up. And when Jesus tells you to throw the net in again, in spite of your frustration and your anger, and even bitterness at your lack of success so many times before, simply say, “I will do it Jesus, at Your word!”

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