"'I'm going out to fish,' Simon Peter told them, and they said, 'We'll go with you.' So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing." John 21:3 (NIV)
Have you ever found yourself in a place where all your hopes and dreams have fallen apart? What did you do?
Jesus' disciple Peter had betrayed his Lord, and watched Him die. Now Jesus was gone. So what did he do? In John 21, we see Peter going back to what he was doing before he met Him. I sometimes wonder what he must've been thinking as he sat aboard the fishing boat and scanned the horizon.
Did he wonder if it was all just a dream? Did he worry about the future? He had been at a spiritual pinnacle—walking with Jesus, hearing from Jesus, planning for a future that included Jesus. But in the blink of an eye, he and his comrades were back to their old pursuits as though nothing had happened at all.
When we feel that way, we tend to go back to what we knew before. We might go back to old habits or old friends who weren't necessarily the best for us. We might go back to old pursuits or old crutches that once propped us up. We might be like Peter and find ourselves sitting in a place we never thought we'd see again.
And yet, this time, something is different. This time there is that glimmer of hope that—while we might have gone back—we don't have to stay back.
I love that this story ends with Jesus on the beach waiting for Peter and his friends to stop fishing and come to Him. And, when Peter saw Jesus, he jumped out of the boat to get to Him.
Perhaps you've walked away from your own dreams and returned to what is familiar. Maybe disappointment or failure has left you wondering where God is. I hope you will cling to this story today. I hope that as you scan your horizon, you will see God waiting for you to return to Him. And when you do, you will run towards Him as fast as you can.
He may have let you go through an alone time. He may have allowed you to wonder if He was still there. But in that time, I pray that the flicker of hope did not die out for you. You may have gone back to "fishing," but He doesn't want you to stay there. He's got so much more for you to do. He is still at work. His plans involve going forward, not going back.
Dear Lord, I have felt alone and forgotten. I have wondered if any of my spiritual experiences were real. I've gone back to what's familiar because it was all I knew to do. But I know You don't want to leave me there. I want to see You when I scan the horizon. And when I do, help me to have the courage to run toward You as fast as I can. I trust that You still have a plan for me. And that plan involves going forward, not going back. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
This devotional is by Marybeth Whalen and can be found on www.crosswalk.com.