John 21:3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
I have met many, who while incarcerated, swear they will never return to their old ways, only to fall back into the old life when the motivation to change is removed. In jail, the discomfort of their situation and the absence of freedom stimulates them to pursue God, but when circumstances change, they quickly return to the old life and its vain pursuits.
Most of us are like this. When motivated by some discomfort to pursue God, we seek him. When He meets us, we bravely promise that we will follow him all the days of our life. Then, when things go back to normal, complacency sets in. Normalcy breeds apathy, which returns us to our way of doing things.
Once, in some misery, I promised God and family that I would never return to active addiction but then proceeded to do nothing about it. My good intentions alone produced no action. Good intentions, unmatched by discipline and action, led me straight back to the old life.
With Christ leading the disciples, they were bold and obedient. When He was crucified though, they scattered. Even after He rose from the dead, showing himself to them, things were never the same. He came and went mysteriously and showed himself to them only a handful of times.
They must have felt lost. No knowing what to do, they went back to the old life. I do not know if it was a moral failure or not, but they went fishing. They fished all night and produced nothing but despair and futility. Their best efforts at doing things their way led them to empty nets and hopelessness.
I am familiar with this situation. Like Peter, I have said, I am going back to what I know. Then, also like Peter, I have produced nothing but emptiness. I have insisted on doing things my way and have met with the destruction of following self.
In the disciples’ despair, Jesus appeared to them. Knowing the answer, He asked, Children, do you have any fish? They did not recognize him, standing on shore, as He told them, Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some. At that moment, they had nothing to lose. The downcast disciples’ best efforts had come up empty, so they listened and threw the net to the other side of the boat. In following Christ, their nets were suddenly filled with large fish, so many they struggled to manage it. Finally, they recognized Christ and were filled with joy.
This is how Christ comes to us. He meets us in the despair of following self and He asks, Are you sick of your way yet? Why not try it my way? Leave the old life and follow me. Experience the joy and life that you desire.
This is my daily choice then, to follow self to destruction, or to do whatever it takes to abandon self and follow Christ to joy and life.
The Seeds of the Spirit is a daily blog based on a walk through the New Testament. Written from the perspective of my own addiction, it explores the common defects of our flesh nature and the solution, our spirit life. If you find it helpful, sign up for the blog as a daily email, tell your friends and like/share it on Facebook.