When Success Seems Far away
by Babangida Joseph
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So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at your word I will let down the net.” And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.
Luke 5: 1 – 7.
Many Christians erroneously believe that once they surrender their lives to Jesus everything in their lives is settled. No thanks to preachers who present sermons that appeal to people but not necessarily true. We need to know and get beyond some myths about success (i.e. true success) to be able to balance our Christian lives and make progress.
Some believers are taught that success is the absence of failure. That simply is not true. King David as successful as he was in establishing a godly kingdom, failed in raising godly children. Others were made to believe that once you’re a Christian, you’re out on a roller coaster ride to an unending success galore. But it wasn’t so with Joseph. He ran away from sexual immorality only to land in prison (Genesis 39:13 – 20).
So let’s destroy these myths about success (the list is not exhaustive) from our mentality and face the truth that makes us free.
We all have experienced failure before. Any time you fail, it brings tiredness, anger, bitterness, frustration, discouragement and envy. The list can go on.
Simon and his companions had that same feeling. They toiled all through the night and yet they caught nothing. The cold winds blew at their almost naked bodies. No wink of sleep came into their eyes.
What impressed me most about this passage was how they handled the situation. How do you handle failure? Do you react or respond to the situation? Let us look at some of the things these fishermen didn’t do to have a clearer picture of this passage. This will be of help to us when faced with a dilemma.
First, notice that they didn’t apportion blame on one another. Maybe one of them, earlier on, made a slip and came late and with the wrong net. But we didn’t hear them complaining. Most times that’s what we do. Out of our frustration we begin to shift blames to others on issues we probably wouldn’t remember had things gone on smoothly.
Secondly, they didn’t burn their boats. Have you ever felt like giving up on something? Quitting the job, ending the marriage, leaving school? They simply could have said, “Well, this is all there is. It is all over. We are burning all these fishing equipment and starting a new business.” It was that bad but they didn’t.
Thirdly, they didn’t blame nature. Isn’t it amazing how the human brain can scout around looking for excuses? “Well the river was turbulent that was why we caught nothing”. Or, “the water was too chilly so the fish swam only at the bottom”. Or, “the moon was eclipsed by clouds and it was so dark, the fish went to bed early”. Or,” the mesh of net was too large. We thought that by this time of the year they would have grown so very big but they just slipped through the net.” Or, “it was due to…” The excuses could be endless.
Lastly, they didn’t destroy their nets. While Jesus was busy preaching, they were busy washing their nets. Whether or not what Jesus was sermonizing about made any sense, they simply went on washing their nets. By their actions, they seem to be saying, “Though we caught nothing, we will still continue the business.” They understood the dichotomy of life. Sometimes you’re up; sometimes you’re down. Sometimes the market is booming; sometimes you get nothing. They kept washing their nets in readiness for another night out in the waters of Galilee. Let us learn from this band of diligent fishermen. Let’s not throw in the towel just because the sum total didn’t add up to our expectation. That they didn’t catch any fish doesn’t mean there aren’t any fish in the waters. Christians are not exempted from trying moments. If you’re going through any difficulty right now, this word is especially for you. Don’t give up. Even if success looks like a mirage, just hold on. The more you reach out for it the farther it seems. It is at moments like these that you need to listen for His voice. He will definitely speak. He will show you the exact spot where you need to let down the net to make the success swim to the surface.
Understand that it was after they had finished washing their nets that Jesus asked them to launch out into the deep. Sometimes God will ask you to do things that seem silly. No mother after cleaning her living room will permit pigs into the house. Why will God ask you to go back to that drunken husband of yours who chased you out of the house with a butcher knife? Why will God ask you to stick on the job when the company is crumbling, or the promotion isn’t forth coming? Why will God ask us to cast down the nets into muddy waters after we have just tidied them?
I may not have all the answers to these questions or the ones going on in your mind. But this one thing I know: GOD WILL NEVER ASK YOU TO DO ANYTHING IF IT ISN’T FOR YOUR GOOD. In that helpless state, God takes the greatest glory in our lives. We then truthfully say with the apostle Paul, “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).
God will only ask you to do what is possible not what is impossible. He specializes in impossibilities. He asked Joshua and the Israelites to go around the city of Jericho, and not to pull it down. And on the seventh day, with a big shout of triumph the walls went tumbling down. I want you to realize that the very waters they experienced failure was the same spot they had an overwhelming success. However, they didn’t attain success until they heeded the voice of Jesus. What is Jesus saying to you?
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