Our greatest answers may sometimes come from unexpected sources. Consider the seasoned fishermen taking advice from a stranger on the shore.
These first century fishermen had one lake. All of their experience came from fishing with tried and true methods. From years of successfully harvesting the lake, they knew how to recognize its seasons, currents and conditions. They knew what sort of fish swam in its depths. Perhaps, they had reached a point where they were experts and could laugh at the new, inexperienced people starting out.
Still, their nets were empty this night. As experts, they could probably explain why there was no catch tonight.
The stranger on the shore asks if they caught any. “No.” It’s a one-word answer that may reveal that they are tired and defeated. It’s time to quit and head back to land. They have nothing to show for their time spent. They are returning empty.
In the state of emptiness, is it possible that we will consider a voice that we might ignore when full?
If the story had gone that they had a full catch and the stranger suggested throwing the net on the other side; who would have listened? Emptiness and humility may be necessary for us to hear truth coming from unexpected places.
If a church is to hear what the Spirit is saying to it, there will need to be a condition of heart that is open to suggestion. How might Jesus speak to us expert believers and tell us to drop net on the other side?
Could it be that we sometimes pull in empty nets to prepare us for listening to unlikely counsel? In the boat, they did not recognize that God was speaking to them from the stranger on the shore. But when the nets filled on the other side, they realized that Jesus was the stranger. It is a reoccurring story in the gospels that people did not recognize Jesus until something happened. We may miss Jesus’ voice and presence many times until we awaken to Him.
The fishermen thought it was a hopeless night and did not realize that success was right under their noses. The success was waiting where they were not going on their own.