Following Jesus is never easy. Sometimes, it appears downright foolish and counterproductive. Peter experienced this firsthand. He had just worked all night, and caught nothing. As a married man, who may have had children, Peter worked all night and had nothing to show for it. He had just spent all morning cleaning his nets so he could go out again tonight in hopes of having something to bring home to feed his family.
And now, Jesus tells him to waste more time and energy by throwing his nets back into the water, in the middle of the day! Experience and wisdom told Peter to ignore Jesus, but friendship and faith told him to obey.
Thankfully, Peter obeyed, and he got a large catch of fish that day. For all we know, it was the greatest number of fish ever caught on the Sea of Galilee in one day, and Peter did it in one cast of the net—all because he followed Jesus into foolishness.
I am not saying that Christians should live foolish lives. The Book of Proverbs is very clear that we are to lives of wisdom and care, full of planning and preparation for the future. But sometimes God leads us into messy, scary, dangerous, wasteful, and foolish places. Sometimes in following Jesus, it seems like we are walking backwards.
And sometimes when we try to follow Jesus, it seems like we hit a brick wall. This has happened frequently to my wife and I the last few years, with my new job, our adoption process, our attempts at church planting, and a host of other areas. I sometimes wish there were accounts in Scripture where people followed God’s instructions, stepped out “in faith” and then nothing happened. I would like to see how they responded.
What if Peter had cast in his net, and come up with nothing? Then he would have had to go back to shore and clean his nets all over again. And he would have missed time with his family and been too tired to fish the night. He certainly would have wondered why Jesus caused all that pointless work. Do you think he would have left his boats and nets to followed Jesus?
Now that I think about it, there is at least one story in Scripture where this happens. Remember Jonah? God says, “Go to Nineveh and tell them I’m going to destroy them.” So Jonah does…and God’s doesn’t. How does Jonah respond? He gets angry. And at the end of the book, God basically tells Jonah that He didn’t follow through because He is trying to teach Jonah something, namely, that God loves people…even the ones we hate.
So when you and I get “burned by Jesus,” when we try to follow Him in faith and it seems He drops the ball, hopefully we have eyes to see what it was He was trying to teach us about our view of Him and our love toward others.