When You Work Hard And Come Up Empty…Part 3

There are steps of faith we can take that will help us make it through our difficult times, when we’re coming up empty in certain areas of our life.  Let’s look at them.

The first couple of things we need to do, that Peter, Andrew, James and John did is:

  1. We need to give Jesus complete access to our life.  (Part 2)
  2. We need to admit that our efforts aren’t working.

Verse 4-5 “When Jesus had finished speaking he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch.’ Simon Peter answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and we haven’t caught anything.’”

Do you realize how hard it was for Peter to say this?  Peter is a pro.  He’s good at what he does.  He’s a professional fisherman.  These guys are not amateurs.  They are not novices.  They’re not weekend fishermen.  They make a living at this.  They know how to do this.  But sometimes even when you’re a pro, you fish all night and you catch nothing.

It’s humbling and hard to say this. They make their living catching fish.  Peter not catching any fish is like Tony Parker playing an entire game and never making a basket.  It would be like Phil Mickelson playing a round of golf never sinking a putt.  Not a few extra strokes.  Not even a single putt.  This is quite humbling.

The truth is they’re doing their best.  These are good guys. But friends, sometimes our best is not good enough. And sometimes there are situations that are out of our control.  You can’t control the economy.  You can’t control the weather.  You can’t control a lot of things in life that will affect your life.  Other people, diseases, you can’t stop the aging process.  Most of the major things of your life you can’t control.  So you start thinking, I have tried so hard it just doesn’t seem to make any difference.  I’ve worked so hard and I’ve got so little to show for it.

What do you need to do?  You need to first do these two things.  You get Jesus in your boat and you admit that your way isn’t working.  That’s humbling.  The Bible calls that confession.

Why don’t we want to admit this? There are three reasons I don’t want to admit when it’s not working: pride, stubbornness and fear.

I don’t want to admit it because of pride. I don’t want anybody to think that I can’t handle it.  If it’s to be it’s up to me.  I’m in charge.  I’ve got it all together.  It’s all cop acetic.  Pride keeps me from admitting this step too. I think I can handle everything by myself – we’ll work eleven hours tomorrow night and twelve hours the next night and thirteen hours the next night.

Stubbornness.  Stubbornness is when I’m unwilling to change the way I’m doing it.  We’ve always done it this way.  The greatest enemy of tomorrow’s success is yesterday’s success.  We’re not in yesterday anymore.  You’ve got to do it differently now.  Jesus will tell you the way to do it.  Yesterday’s success will keep you from success today.

This is traditionalism.  It’s stubbornness.  It happens to pastors.  It happens to spiritual leaders.  It happened to Moses.  Moses was leading the children of Israel out of Egypt to go to Israel.  It should take them two weeks.  And it takes them forty years to cross the Sinai desert. Because Moses like many of us could be very head strong and stubborn.

Stubbornness, pride and …

Fear could keep us from admitting we’ve fished all night and caught nothing.

We’re afraid that people will think less of us.  In fact, we’re afraid to get Jesus into my boat because he’ll steer it in a direction we don’t want it to go.  If I put Jesus in my job, he might make me a fanatic.  He may turn me into something… I’m scared to death to give Jesus my job.

Regardless of the cause, the second step is to admit this just isn’t working.  Next week we will look at the final step to be considered.



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About Ron

Better known as Son of a Preacher, Ron started the first Christian Fellowship Church in Harlingen, Texas in 1982 and presently serves as a counselor, consultant and apostolic overseer to multiple churches and ministries.