When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” (Luke 5:4-5)
I get the sense that there is a particular posture God is calling me to these days, and it has everything in the world to do with these verses in Luke 5. It seems that there are currently quite a few places in my life where the words worked all night (or toiled in the ESV) and haven't caught anything seem to be appropriate. They are areas where I am trying my best to make something happen--something good even--and having (at least visibly anyway) little to no success. But the other day, as I was reading this passage, it hit me. Maybe I am trying like crazy to achieve something that can only be received. That seems to be one of the many treasures that these particular verses hold. Sometimes we work and sweat and toil away, trying to produce an outcome that really can't be produced, but can only be received. And a certain posture is required for each. The posture of productivity is work, work, and more work. The problem is that, in the spiritual life, productivity isn't the point, fruitfulness is. And fruitfulness is never something I can produce or control, but something I can only make space for, and care for, and tend. The end result is ultimately up to God.
Therefore, the mistake I most often make is to take the posture of productivity for something that can only come about as a result of fruitfulness. And when I do that, it will ultimately end in frustration. Fruitfulness takes a different posture altogether. It requires a posture of openness, surrender, vulnerability, receptivity, and trust. That is what I have been seeing in these verses lately. The disciples had worked hard all night and had absolutely nothing to show for it. Then Jesus comes along an tells them to: "Go back out there, except this time go to the deep water and simply let down your nets. Don't worry about the catch, I will take care of that. I'm more concerned with your posture right now. I'm more concerned with teaching you the difference between productivity and fruitfulness, because the Kingdom is all about fruitfulness. One day you are going to be fishing for men instead, and when that day comes you need to learn the value of this posture of trust and openness and obedience and receptivity. So go out into the deep water, even if that is a place where the fish are harder to find (that's part of the point), and let down your nets. That's it! Don't work and toil and sweat. Just let down your nets and wait on me, I will fill them...in my own time and in my own way. In fact, I am the only one that can truly fill them. And until you learn that you aren't going to be of much use to anyone."