Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. (John 21:1-6, NIV)
I can be pretty stubborn at times. I can keep my head down and plod right along without even noticing that I might have been toiling all night and still have empty nets. I guess I figure that if I keep doing the same old things, the way I have always done them, that eventually it will work out. It might never occur to me that I need to do something different, to change my ways. It seems like I remember someone very wise once saying something about the definition of insanity being to continue to do the same old things over and over and expect to get a different outcome. Well, call me crazy I suppose, because I tend to do that a lot. I fail to recognize—or refuse to acknowledge—that my way just isn’t working. After all, who is a better expert on my life than me?
I guess that’s why this passage haunts me a little bit. The disciples did the exact same thing. They worked and worked and worked, all night long, and caught absolutely nothing. The only difference is that when someone made a suggestion that they might want to try another way, at least they listened. They didn’t even recognize it was Jesus until after they had taken his advice and caught a massive amount of fish. And it wasn’t the first time this had happened. But give them some credit. They weren’t so hard-headed that they refused to acknowledge that their way just wasn’t working, and were willing to embrace a new way of doing things.
I need to follow their example. For it is quite possible that I get so busy toiling all night long that I, like the disciples, fail to recognize that Jesus is standing on the shore. It is quite possible that when someone brings up the possibility of doing things in a new and different way, that it might actually be Jesus trying to open me up to the possibility of new ways of seeing or being or doing.
The beautiful thing is that even if I do not always recognize Jesus, he always recognizes me. Thanks be to God!