Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Empty Boat

signing true woman '12 conference manifesto Wow!  What a weekend!  I had the great blessing to be able to attend the True Women '12 conference in Indianapolis with about a dozen ladies from my church.  As I mentioned before I left, it was a very last-minute decision. 

When the chance was first presented to our ladies at church, I decided not to go because it would mean being out of town on my kids' birthday.  But, then we found out the iPhone launched that day and we knew we wouldn't be able to spend the day as a family like we had planned since Daddy would be working all day.  So, when my mom called me up and said she wanted to give me her ticket, I just knew that I wanted to go.  The idea of spending time with other ladies and learning from great speakers sounded wonderful.  I talked with hubby and then the kids and they all said they didn't mind if I made the trip.

I am so glad that I decided to go!  This was an experience I won't soon forget.  I've been thinking about how to share this experience with you all and have had so many memories, moments, quotes, and events run through my mind.  How could I fit it all in?  Finally, I decided to share the moment that had the most impact on me.  

During the Saturday evening session Priscilla Shirer was speaking.  She chose a passage from Luke 5 where Simon Peter is cleaning his nets after a night of unsuccessful fishing.  Jesus, followed closely by an insistent crowd, comes to the shore and steps into Simon's boat.  From the deck, Jesus taught the people.  After he finished teaching, He instructed Simon to go out into the deep waters and cast his nets.  Despite the fact that Jesus' instructions did not make sense to him, Simon obeyed.  As a result of this obedience, he caught so many fish that his nets began to brake.  When he called to his partners to help, they filled both ships so much that they both began to sink.
John5 1 And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. 3 And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land.  And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. 4 Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. 6 And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake . 7 And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. 9 For he was astonished , and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken :
Jesus blessings boat nets fish empty Simon Peter Bible John 5
I've read this passage many times and have heard many sermons preached on it.  But, Priscilla pointed out something that I had never really noticed before.

Jesus, the Creator of the universe, the One who said to the wind and the waves, "Peace, be still," and they obeyed, the One who walked on water, the One who conquered death, could easily have allowed Simon Peter to have had an amazingly successful night.  He could have allowed Simon to catch so many fish that when He arrived, Simon was not cleaning his nets, but rather attempting to empty his boat of its load.  Jesus could have given Simon the blessing of the best catch of his life, before He ever arrived.

But, He didn't.  Instead, Simon returned to shore weary, disappointed, and discouraged.  He had nothing to show for his long night except dirty nets.  And, he couldn't even just leave his nets for another day.  He had to clean them, and mend them, and prepare for another day with no guarantee that the next day would be any better.  Jesus could have prevent this disappointment.  He could have filled the boat during the night.  But, He had a different plan.

Because, if the boat hadn't been empty, Jesus wouldn't have been able to fit!

Jesus wouldn't have been able to climb into Simon's boat.  He wouldn't have been able to use Simon's ship to teach the people.  And Simon would never have know that it was Jesus who allowed his boat to become full!

Jesus had allowed Simon to suffer disappointment and failure.  He had allowed things to be hard.  He had allowed Simon's boat to remain empty.   He did all this because He had better plans.  Better plans for Himself.  Better plans for the crowd of people following Him.  And better plans for Simon Peter.

This message of the empty boat was just what I needed to hear at this time in my life.  It seemed as if God were speaking it right to my heart.  Because, for the last nine months I have been struggling with infertility.  Despite my great desire for more children, despite the fact that my husband and I have been trying for more than two years, I have been left weary, disappointed, and discouraged.

Yet, God has left my boat empty for a reason!  He has better plans with which to fill it.  Like Simon, I need only obey.  Even if it doesn't make sense.  Even if I am tired and left with dirty nets.  If I obey the voice of the Lord, He will fill my boat with blessing I can't even imagine.

I pray, that when Jesus speaks, I will say to Him, "nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net."

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