In John 21:6b, the disciples were about to learn an important lesson about success and failure. After all, they were professional fishermen, doing everything they knew to do. But they caught nothing! When they obeyed Jesus’ directive and shifted the nets to the other side of the boat, when they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. The disciples didn’t just have success, they had great success.
Jesus needed the disciples to see the difference between self-directed effort and Jesus-directed effort. And to show them, He let them fail first. Honestly speaking I need this lesson myself. I wonder if Jesus has watched me try on my own and held back success while I do. Is He just waiting for me to listen for His voice? To watch for His plan.
Yes, we can do many things on our own, but that doesn’t mean we should. Why would we choose to ignore the greatest source of wisdom and power ever known, in exchange for our paltry efforts? When we operate in our power, we see what we can do. When we operate under Jesus’ direction and with the power of the Holy Spirit, we see what God can do.
Today as I look back on my life, the times I’ve seen God work in the greatest ways are when I admit my natural strength isn’t enough. That’s when His supernatural strength is evident. Viewed from this perspective, it reminds me sometimes failure is an opportunity to see God work miracles. Sometimes that’s the only way to see the difference between self-directed effort and Jesus-directed effort. God is always up to something for my good. And that’s the best way to look at disappointment.
“Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’ ‘No,’ they answered.” – John 21:4-5 (NIV)
Yahweh, thank You for working in my life, even in ways that look like failure. Father, help me keep my eyes on You and not on my situation. God, I want to learn to trust You more, especially when I face what looks like a disappointment. Thank you, God, for using my disappointments as opportunities. In Christ’s Name, Amen.
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