Obedience before Experience
Luke 5:4-7 When [Jesus] had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking….
John 21:3-6 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”… [Peter and the other disciples] went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore…. Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?” They answered Him, “No.” And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.
Experience and wisdom count for something. These fishermen were experienced at their craft. They knew that nighttime was the best time for catching fish in their area. They knew when to dry their nets and how best to let them down into the waters.
The Bible expects and encourages us to learn and to grow in wisdom through experience. Proverbs 1:5 is just one of the many encouragements in that book alone: “A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel.”
But in these two situations, wisdom and experience almost stood in the way. Simon Peter, who made his living as a fisherman, actually argued with Jesus when He told him to let down their nets: “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing.” But then Peter adds the all-important part of his response: “…nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”
Now Peter wasn’t guaranteed a successful catch at the word of the Lord. He was just being obedient. If no fish had been caught, Peter would still have been a faithful follower of Jesus. In fact, at this point, Peter wasn’t concerned with nets and fish specifically; he was concerned with being obedient. The fact that they ended up catching so many was an added bonus.
Peter didn’t “bring God” into his fishing through prayer or any other means so that he would be a successful fisherman. He was seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33), and this one thing—a successful day of fishing—was added unto him as he was obedient. Notice the second story above. There is almost the same scenario, except that instead of an argument of any kind, they simply dropped their nets at the word of the Lord, and the Lord blessed them.
May we never let experience and our own “wisdom” get in the way when the Lord is working to direct us. What makes ultimate sense is not what makes sense to us, but doing the Lord’s will. Remember, He is more concerned with our obedience and the faithfulness of our hearts (Kingdom of God issues) than in any worldly success.
Prayer: Lord, I argue with you sometimes when I think I know better, and I sometimes talk myself out of obeying you because I think I have reasons not to. Forgive me for that, and help me to simply attune myself better to your direction and promptings, believing that obedience is more important than any other action.