Sometimes God waits for us to catch His best until He reveals that He has been there all along.
It was the summer I turned eight and excitement rose in the air as I headed toward the pier for an afternoon of endless possibilities. Adventure was all I had talked about for days, imagining how fun it would be to fish with everybody at Oscar’s Lake. The day wouldn’t be remembered by how many fish we caught or lost though; it would be special because I was fishing with friends and family. Days like that were perfect.
I sat amidst great fishers who were wrapped up in old fishing stories of the good old days. It’s funny how we never see days as good until they are gone. Perhaps that is one of the lost secrets to being content. The sun slowly began to dissolve into the deepest parts of the water and everyone else started to reel in the fish. I was usually pretty good after a little help baiting the hook from my dad, but on this particular day I was not catching anything. Even the youngest kids were screaming with delight as they pulled shiny fish out of the water. I am both competitive and stubborn and I was determined to catch a fish before I left that day.
In a final moment of magic I felt the string being tugged on and I watched with pleasure as the little red and white ball bounced up and down in the glistening water. I pulled with all my might but the fish would not come. After a few tries my line seemed stuck. I waited for my dad to finish up with my brother and called him over.
A fierce battle erupted between my dad and the beast before I heard the dreaded words: “I think it’s caught on something.” I frowned. What if my glorious fish was absolutely nothing? Slowly, the line began to progress in our direction and he was able to pull it in. When the end of the line finally emerged from the water, our mouths hung open. Out of the water splashed the biggest fish I had ever seen in my life. Specks of color danced across the dock as the setting sun hit it. I had captured a ten pound pike! To this day, it was the greatest fish I’ve ever caught and there is no proof.
John Chapter 21 reminded me of that day long ago. It says:
3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them[ the disciples], and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. 6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.”
It is interesting to me that they were unsuccessful until Jesus got involved. His solution was simple—to throw their net on the RIGHT side. I get the feeling Jesus wasn’t talking as much about left and right as right and wrong. I think sometimes we get so frustrated with life or circumstances or not catching anything that we fail to realize that we are tossing our nets in the wrong places. The world is quick to offer pools of pride, jealousy, self-pleasure, and doing whatever you want but at the end of the day, they aren’t catching anything worth holding onto.
It was only after the miraculous change of luck that the disciples recognized the man as Jesus. They hauled in so many fish they could barely carry them, but just minutes before they’d had absolutely nothing in their nets or in their hands. I love what this reveals to us—sometimes God waits for us to catch His best until He reveals that He has been there all along. We can't always see what He is doing but eventually, if we hang in there, it starts to add up. That day on Oscar’s Lake, my dad never left the dock, but it wasn’t until he began to help me pull the line, that I brought my prized fish in. Our Heavenly Father looks to do the same. We may be standing on the verge of a big catch, but will never be able to pull it in the way He desires for us without looking to Him for help. We have to trust that even when it doesn’t seem like it, God is always there. He is always waiting to help us fill our nets.
Don’t settle for the fish you have to throw back in life; wait for the big ones. God longs to overflow your haul, your heart and your hands. Invest your nets in the right side of the boat, in the things of Christ and you’ll be successful beyond measure. Don’t give up; your stuck line just might be a ten pound pike.