Have you ever had that feeling that what you’re doing feels awfully familiar? We were meeting a friend for dinner but couldn’t find the restaurant on Friday so went through the instructions again – three times! and still ended up on a corner that did not seem right. Frustration. My daughter and I can put together a do-it-yourself cupboard and invariably the doors are backwards. We have done it often enough that we just laugh now and start over. Disciple Peter and friends have returned to Galilee, their home area to wait for Jesus who promised to meet them there, and have decided to go fishing. That was their profession, their comfort zone. A night on the Sea of Galilee would feel good after all they had been through. Right? In fact, they caught no fish and were tired. A stranger on the shore yelled at them to toss their nets on the other side of the boat. They did and the nets were loaded with fish. John was the first to realize that they had gone through this experience before of fishing, catching nothing, and Jesus telling them to try the other side. He looked at the shore more closely and recognized the risen Christ. (John 21:4-9)
The truth is that God’s ways are not our ways but when we are tired and have been through a big experience, it is often that then we revert to the same ole fruitless efforts. It does not come natural to forgive, to turn the other cheek, to go the extra mile. It does not come natural to spend a day a week connecting spiritually. We want to play or get other things done when we are not at our profession. Jesus calls to us and tells us to throw our nets on the other side of the boat, on the other side of a situation. It is often when we look in unexpected places and act in unexpected ways that we find the Lord going ahead of us.
My kids loved for me to read the story of Balaam and his donkey. The donkey refused to go forward because the donkey could see the angel with a huge sword blocking the way. Balaam beat his donkey and God gave the donkey voice. “Why are you hitting me? I am trying to stop you from getting in trouble!” Sometimes when we keep coming to an impasse, we need to try a new approach and to stop and ask where the Lord is in the experience.
That dawn long ago, Jesus was on the shore with a fish roasted for breakfast because he knew the disciples were weary from work and needed to eat before he could talk to them. He knew their situation better than they and he knew their needs. It is still true today. We find the risen Christ in the unexpected turns of our lives and he feeds our souls – but it may not be what we expected. He knows! He cares!