Exhausted. Burned out. Spent. Going on a dozen years of fostering children, I could relate to Peter, fishing all night; sweaty, drained, depleted….and yet sadly catching nothing.
In my own life, I was ready to pull up my net, stop discipling and training children, just to see them leave, a month or even two and a half years later.
I understood Peter’s pulling and striving, his hard work and persistence at what he must have felt like was his calling. Yet, his net remained empty.
Have you ever felt like you were walking in your purpose, but your heart lay barren, hands are empty, your life is like that net, pulled from the water, with nothing substantial in it?
Could it be, God is about ready to use that empty net, to show you the fullness of what He can accomplish by grace, in His timing, when we walk by faith knowing He is right beside us?
And I wonder, does God allowed empty nets after hard, black nights, just to contrast with His promise of what He can do when we stand before Him in the light?
I remember it well, opening scripture and reading. “Let down your net again.” (Luke 3:5) I knew what it meant; don’t give up, don’t quit, and keep opening your home to more and more children.
Yet honestly, I didn’t feel like continuing fostering. I didn’t feel like changing diapers, dealing with tantrums, dividing my attention between my own children and all this brokenness. After all, my husband was ready to retire in a few years.
Still, I remember Jack Hyles saying, “You express love by obedience”.
Scripture tells us, “Love the Lord your God out of and with your whole heart and out of and with all your soul (your life) and out of and with all your mind (faculty of thought and your moral understanding) and out of and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30 Amp.)
Was I going to listen to my conscience, follow this call regardless of how excruciating it can feel, lay down my entire life in obedience or was I going to just live for me?
That moment on the carpet, I said, “yes” and responded like Peter who told Jesus, “On the ground of Your word, I will lower my nets [again]”. (Luke 5:5)
Peter didn’t push that boat out into the water because of his own desire or will, but because of His love for the Father and out of obedience to His word.
And guess what? His nets were filled, not just a little bit, but to the point of breaking. It was then, Jesus shifted Peter’s calling from physical fish to spiritual fishing.
Peter who was called Simon at the time, caught a boat full of scaly fish, still that’s when Jesus said, “Have no fear; from now on you will be catching men!” (Luke 5:10)
And I love how just when Peter gets what he thinks he wants, Jesus shifts Peter’s focus from a visible purpose to an eternal calling.
And I wonder…Doesn’t He do the same, when we walk by faith and obedience, trusting Him to guide our lives?
Regardless of how uncomfortable it is, God uses the fruitless nights to prepare us for what He wants to do in the light. He doesn’t demand perfection, but simply asks for love, obedience and our whole hearted devotion to Him.
Callings might not look like we think they should, but His purposes are pure and He always uses for good, our humble steps and surrendered obedience.
Today, another child has recently entered our home. I am not weary like before, but revitalized with passion and purpose, not because of my own strength, but because I know…It was His voice leading me to throw my nets deep again.
Though born, raised, and still living only miles from where she grew up, Jen's heart lies in the nations. Jen loves the beautiful tapestry found in the wide diversity of people, different cultures, and all nations. Jen and her husband have been married twenty years, and have parented fifteen kids and counting; twelve foster, one adopted, and two bios. Her multi-racial family reflects her passion for unity, desire for faith without walls, and missional mindset to share both the gospel and the power of redemption to a world desperately needing the hope found in Jesus Christ. Jen and her husband have led in a variety of ministries; including prayer, small groups, children's, and women’s. Jen advocates for the orphan as a board member for the non-profit, A New Song; and loves doing missions work internationally, along with her family. You can find Jen writing about faith, while challenging her readers at her blog, Rich Faith Rising, as well as at tweeting faith-filled messages @Jen_Avellaneda . Jen is also on facebook.
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