In Luke 5:1-11, we read about a time when Jesus had just finished preaching a sermon from the wooden pulpit of a borrowed boat. Because the crowd was so large, He had taught them from a distance. “He got into one of the boats,” we read, “which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching” (Luke 5:3).
Jesus led a group Bible study with those who had gathered along the shore, and after finishing, He gave the benediction. Following the benediction, He narrowed His attention to the owner of the boat, Simon (who would later be called Peter.) What started as a generic sermon to the multitude now became an instruction to somebody. What began as a message to the masses moved to a message to an individual. You’ve experienced that before—when the lesson, verse or truth has your name written all over it.
It’s one thing to go to church, read a book or listen to a sermon on a radio program and hear a general principle that can be applied to a general audience. It is an entirely different thing when God grabs His Heavenly highlighter and speaks directly to you. Which is what He did to Peter when Jesus told him, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4).
In one short statement, Jesus told him where to go—into the deep. He told him what to do—let down your nets. And He told him what to expect—a great catch.
In an even shorter reply, Peter complained, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing” (Luke 5:5). In other words, Sir, we have tried. There is no hope.
What Peter didn’t know is a clue that I am going to tell you now. Two clues, actually. These are two clues that will let you know when you are in the vicinity of receiving something very special from God.
Clue number one: God is not allowing anything that you do to work.
You feel that you have done everything you can—run the numbers, gone job hunting, read the books, gone to counseling, but it still isn’t working. When this happens, I would like to suggest to you, like Peter who struggled all night only to end up with an empty net, that you are exactly where God wants you to be.
Clue number two: What God asks you to do doesn’t make sense.
Talk to any fisherman who has worked on the Sea of Galilee and they will tell you that putting a net into the deep waters in the day is not the way to catch fish. What Jesus asked Peter to do not only contradicted his experience, knowledge, history, background and training, but it also contradicted his instincts.
Thankfully for Peter, even though he complained, he eventually did the thing that Jesus asked him to do. And because he did, we read that, “they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break” (Luke 5:6).
Do you know how many fish it takes to break a fisherman’s net? If we were to ask Paul, he would probably tell us, “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).
Oftentimes God allows our scenarios in life to get hopeless—He allows our efforts to become fruitless—He allows our knowledge and instincts to prove useless in order that we will see that it is He who works within, through and for us with His power.
He does this because He wants you, like Peter, to witness Him come through for you in your hopeless situation so that you will experience Him and trust Him in the way that He wants to be experienced by you.