God has given each of us passions and desires for bigger and greater things so that we never remain stagnant or feel like our lives are without purpose. He has placed things inside each of us that are much bigger than any of us could accomplish without His help. There is an amazing story from the book of John that teaches us a bit about being prepared for those dreams that he has given us. God does give us great vision but only wants us to step into that when we are actually ready.
In Matthew 4 Jesus begins to call the disciples. In return for laying down their fishing nets He told them that they could come with him to fish for people. After his resurrection there is also another amazing story centered on fishing that is recorded in John 21. In this story the disciples are found fishing after Jesus has risen from the dead. They did not recognize him at first but after following his instructions their nets began to fill with probably more fish than they had ever caught at one time in their entire lives. When they obeyed Jesus they experienced a supernatural favor and blessing.
When they return to the shore (John 21:10-11) the Disciples were asked by Jesus to bring their fish to Him. We are always meant to bring the things that Jesus blesses us with, whether resources or people, to Him. All of it is meant for HIS glory and never for our own. We get to partake and enjoy of this amazing abundance but we need to remember its always intended to be handed right back to him.
When they got back to the shore their nets were completely filled with fish but for some reason the nets did not break. The verse mentions an exact number, 153, that they caught. I believe the number was mentioned because had there been 154 the nets would have broken. The number is significant because Jesus only allowed them to catch what they could handle. What would have been the value of this blessing had they gotten to shore and as they pulled the net out of the water it busted and all the fish just swam back into the sea? He never intends for us to catch more than our nets can handle.
The number of fish in this story can represent each of our dreams and passions. They represent what God may entrust us with whether it may be people, possessions or some great position. God may have given us vision for a huge ministry, or a thriving business but what I believe he wants us to focus on is the NET and not the quantity of fish. He wants us to be sure we have the capacity for the vision that he has placed in our hearts.
The disciples were called in an instant to follow Christ and become fishers of men. But before they could catch the fish they had to make their nets. They had to take their time sitting and sewing each piece together and tying different places together. They had to invest time day after day to ensure that when the time came they would be able to handle whatever catch God had planned for them. Most people want to focus on their huge ambitions and make a nice looking plan of bullet points of how to get there but few want to go through the grueling work of preparing their character to be in that position one day. Radical encounters with the Spirit of God can propel us into our destiny but only intentional effort to grow can give us the discipline that will ensure we are capable of withstanding the pressure of all that God wants to place in our nets.
Some people feel like their grand visions are vain or are something that they should not express so they choose to never talk about them or focus on them. This can sometimes be a person practicing false humility. The enemy wants to pervert our dreams and make it all about us. He wants us to forget that the whole reason we catch the fish is so that we can pull them out with our nets and take them to Jesus. We need to embrace our grand visions with great humility and set our hearts to let the Holy Spirit give us the character we need to achieve them. In the same way that God gave all of creation natural sexual desires to ensure pro-creation, so did He give us these dreams to expand and grow His Kingdom. We have the ideas because God has placed them in each of our hearts so that we will pursue them with great passion!
Instead of asking Jesus for more fish, we really need to be asking him for a stronger net. We need to ask him for more patience, more character, more holiness, more desire to fast and pray and for more integrity. When we ask God for these things then we don’t have to worry about working to achieve a greater anointing or to grow our ministries. The growth will come quite naturally as we sit and sew our nets. The increase will always come as we abide (John 15) in the love of Jesus and allow him to mold us and shape us. We don’t have to strive or try to force it to happen.
Then one day Jesus will look at each of us, when he knows our nets are ready, and ask us to throw the net in one more time. We may have tried already many times with not much success but at this moment we will step into His shalom. We will enter into His peace and prosperity as we walk in maturity and obedience. One of my greatest fears is that I will walk through life with such a weak net that God never sees that I have the capacity to handle anything greater. Let us all be sure that we will have our nets strong and ready so that we can handle the amazing plans that He has for each of us.
– Andrew Chalmers