This story immediately took me to the story in the Bible of Simon Peter. He and his fishermen mates had gone out all night and had not caught a thing. Jesus was standing on the shore as they made their way back and He shouted to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?" "NO!" They shouted back to Him, not knowing at this moment that it was Jesus. "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." Jesus said.
Just try to imagine, if you will, yourself as the fisherman in this story. Firstly, it's the audacity of being told by someone who isn't doing what you are doing or isn't going through what you are going through, to try again but in a completely wrong way to what you're used to. I'd be like; "you have no idea, mate. Thanks but no thanks." Simon Peter and his colleagues would have had a routine, a strict way of fishing and would probably have been extremely tired and angry that they didn't have a catch. So not in a good place to hear themselves or their method being put into question.
Secondly, it's the way they respond, in this story, which I find even stranger. They just went for it. No questions asked but the attitude of, 'what's the worst that could happen?' Don't you find this a little strange, like I do? I can only assume that there was such authority in Jesus' voice that these guys did what He asked of them. When they did what Jesus asked, they struggled to contain the amount of fish - a bit like our Irish friends.
But then, for me, the most amazing thing happens. After being obedient to the Lord's call to do something which pushed their better judgement, Jesus asks them for some of the fish and cooks up a mean breakfast. Not only does this speak of Jesus honouring obedience with rewards but it also underpins the fact that He DOES understand when we face trials and knows what to do to put everything right. Even if we have made the same mistake over and over again. When we face trials are we standing aside and asking God for help and direction or are we still fishing in the same barren waters?
I've been in the same situation as the disciples many times. I have not only kept doing what I think is right and not obeying God's voice, but I haven't asked for help or direction. This always, inevitably, leads to discontentment.
"Peter disowned Jesus but Jesus cooked Peter breakfast and reinstated him."
But the thing I love about God is that He then doesn't judge me when I completely mess it up. When I go to Him and say I'm sorry, there is no 'I told you so' but utter love and acceptance and a fresh chance to be obedient. Think of how Peter was feeling at the moment he walked onto the beach and recognised Jesus. He had denied he ever knew Jesus not too long ago but here he was, being cooked for and then Jesus reinstates him completely. This is such a wonderful story of grace and redemption.
Two weeks ago I felt I'd heard God ask me to throw my nets on the other side. The idea of going back into writing was almost ludicrous, especially as I hadn't been involved in the industry since before I got married, 14 years ago. But God wasn't asking me for anything impossible, He was asking me to trust Him. I had been casting my nets on the same side, over and over again. All I seemed to be catching were scraps of junk and lots of closed doors. So, like the disciples, I put aside all my so-called knowledge and threw my nets over the other side of my metaphorical boat.
Well, if you'd have told me there and then that I'd publish my first children's story online and be asked to help start up a motoring news website in the first two days of going self employed as a writer, I'd have laughed very hard. But this has happened. God honoured my faith to trust Him and presented a fresh opportunity to take back which I felt to lay down all those years ago. He is just so kind.
So the story about throwing nets over the other side of the boat is not so much about the quantity of fish, but it's really about how much faith we have in God that when He says 'do it' we simply say 'yes'.
What are you trusting God for? What things have you been doing over and over again to try and see an answer but it just hasn't happened? Go to the Father and ask Him to show you what you actually need to do and He will tell you. He did that with the disciples, He did it with me, He's done it for countless others and He will do it for you.
It's what He does best.