Master we have toiled all night
‘Master we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing, nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.’ Luke 5 Verse 5
I love fishing, loch fishing, and on these islands we are especially blessed with pollutant free fresh water lochs. There is even a district or perhaps I should say two districts reflecting this truth. North and South Lochs seem, at least from the air to have more lochs than land.
I remember one day being invited to fish on one of the prestigious salmon lochs, owned by North Harris Estates and part of the Amhuinnsuidhe Castle network of rivers and lochs. Here the wealthy come from all parts of the earth to enjoy the sport of landing a big salmon.
I had set my three rods with bait, picked up my book and I tried to concentrate on reading while dreaming of landing my first salmon. I could see the salmon and trout on the loch jumping and catching flies and I thought to myself,’ Not long now!’
The morning passed, and all I caught was an eel! Bah!! Back to my book. The book I was reading was entitled, ‘I will make you fishers of men.’ I cannot remember the Author at present, but he was having a job keeping my attention. With three rods, all in a row, it seemed as thought the salmon were toying with me and using my lines as hurdles!
The loch was teeming with fish and they were coming right up beside me. I would have had more luck had I had a baseball bat in my hand rather than fishing rods! I left the loch, heavy hearted and empty! It promised so much but yielded nothing!
The fishermen we read of in this chapter were experienced men and they knew their profession well. I have always had an admiration for people who work hard for their living and do it well, no matter what their calling.
They had toiled and grafted all night long. They were extremely tired and I am sure that many of them were longing for their beds and a good rest.
There are times in our Christian lives when then Lord would have us do something that defies reason. Things that perhaps others would be more qualified to do. Perhaps a call from a fruitful field of labour to one in another place, perhaps even another country!
It may be the case that you are serving the Lord, toiling endlessly with no reward. It must be soul destroying at times for faithful preachers when they see no new faces in their congregations for month after month. Some of the finest preachers have known no converts at all in many years in the ministry, yet they have fed the flock of God faithfully each week.
Can I paraphrase what I think Peter was thinking? ‘OK Lord, I am absolutely exhausted, and I doubt very much whether my mates will join me, but since you have commanded me to go out again, then I am willing to do it.’
How Peter managed to persuade the others we are not told, but they obeyed the Lord, launched out into the deep and let down their nets. I can almost hear the murmuring and frustration among the fishermen on board!
The nets they had just finished washing were now full of fish! So full in fact that their nets broke under the strain and they had to call in reinforcements, to get their haul to shore.
Simple obedience had been rewarded in a marvellous manner. Our task and our duty each day in life is to take God at His Word. If we stopped putting in our ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ then perhaps great blessings may attend our labour.
Serving the Lord at times can be tedious, lonely and very frustrating. At the same time as being a labour of love. It is to be obedient to the task in hand and to do whatever the Lord has asked us to do, to the best of our abilities. It is then my friend that we may expect great things to happen.
We may have spent many a weary night in toil. Weeping may for a night endure, but joy cometh in the morning. We know not when or how the Lord will bless us, and we do not serve Him to receive a blessing. He blesses His own in ways that we can only dream about.
Simon Peter was so amazed by the miracle, having witnessed, at least to a degree the Lord’s glory that he prayed a prayer that thankfully was never answered! It is one thing to view our sin, however we should never pray, ‘depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’ Where would we be if the Lord answered that prayer?
The story ends with a new beginning. The Lord says to Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.’ From fishing to fishing, from nets to nets, from fish to souls and a glorious harvest.
Let us this day cast out our nets once more, perhaps in places that have so far proved barren. Let us tell our families, our friends, our relations, our workmates and even our enemies the wonderful story of Jesus. This may be the day when we too shall be astonished by our catch.
'Preach Christ! Use words if you have to.’