By Dick Koehneke
When Jesus had finished [teaching the people from the boat], he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” (Luke 5:4-5)
If Simon Peter and his friends had listened only to their feelings, they would have gone home empty-handed. They were tired, worn out, and frustrated. They had put in hours of hard work with nothing to show for it.
If Simon and his friends had been slaves to their circumstances, they never would have experienced the miracle Jesus wanted to give them, and they might never have become his followers and friends. The fish simply weren’t there. They hadn’t been there all through the night, when fishing was supposed to be good. They certainly wouldn’t be there in the heat of the day.
But Simon Peter and his partners did not listen only to their feelings. They listened to Jesus. They did not obey their circumstances. They obeyed Jesus. They gave him the last word. They did what he said. What happened? They caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. They had to call for help from another boat, and both boats were filled with fish! Then they left everything and followed Jesus.
Let’s take another look at Simon Peter’s words:“ Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” What if he had said it the other way around? “Master, you tell us to let down the nets. But we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.” He would have been giving the last word to his feelings and his circumstances. His decision would have been dictated by emotions and events, not the word of the Lord.
You and I are tempted to do the same thing. Thank God, we know the Word of God. We hear it. We read it. We discuss it. But sometimes, when the crunch comes, we give the final say to feelings and circumstances. We are guided by emotions and events instead of God’s Word. Listen to how it works:
- “Jesus says he is always with me, but I feel so alone.”
- “God tells me to forgive, but I am really hurt right now.”
- “God’s Word says not to be afraid, but I’m facing some huge struggles.”
- “The Lord wants me to work on my job as though I’m working for Him, but my boss is so hard to please.”
- “The Bible tells us that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin, but I feel so guilty, so dirty, so ashamed.”
That’s what happens when we give the last word to our feelings and our circumstances. We’re walking by sight, not by faith. That road leads nowhere good.
Here is what Simon Peter actually said: “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” He acknowledged his feelings. He recognized his circumstances. But he gave the final say to Jesus. He took action based not on his emotions or events, but on the word of the Lord. Here’s how it works. Here are the same five sentences with the clauses reversed, giving God the last word.
- “I feel so alone, but Jesus says he is always with me.”
- “I am really hurt right now, but God tells me to forgive.”
- “I’m facing some huge struggles, but God’s Word says not to be afraid.”
- “My boss is so hard to please, but the Lord wants me to work on my job as though I’m working for Him.”
- “I feel so guilty, so dirty, so ashamed, but the Bible tells us that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.”
What a difference! What a transformation! Now we’re walking by faith, not by sight. Give God the last word. Don’t deny your feelings or stuff your emotions. Acknowledge them, express them, but don’t give them the last word! Give God the last word, and feel your emotions begin to change!
Don’t ignore your circumstances or pretend that events aren’t happening. Stay informed about what’s going on around you, but don’t let events dictate your decisions. Give God the last word, and you will change the reality around you. When one person changes his or her behavior, it changes the situation.
I love the command and promise of Galatians 6:9 — “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” The proper time is God’s proper time. It may come today. It may happen tomorrow, or a year from now, or a decade from now. It may not happen in your lifetime. The harvest may come in the next generation or the generations after that. It most certainly will come when we are together forever in heaven.
Then God will have the everlasting last word: “Welcome home!”