We live in an area known internationally for some great fishing. Barry Johnson Jr. is a fishing guide and he says that what makes the fishing around here so good is that the streams in Centre County are fed by underground springs and the water is filtered through the limestone that is abundant in our area. The water stays cool and fresh which creates the ideal habitat for both fish and the food fish like to eat. How many of you have been fishing? How many of you have actually caught a fish? How many of you love fishing? How many of you could take it or leave it? How many of you feel like this little guy when it comes to fishing?
That would be me. I grew up on the coast in CT and we had several boats and one of them was a little outboard motor boat that people would take fishing. I begged my Dad to take me when I was in K or 1st grade and so we went. What a day. I swear to this day that a worm bit me, although others said I just jabbed my finger with the hook. Either way I bled everywhere. I don’t remember that we caught anything, what I remember is that the rocking of the boat made me nauseous, we came home early, and as I was walking home from the beach I threw up a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the neighbor’s yard. To this day, I have not eaten a PB&J.
I am not a fisherman. I would be an underdog fisherman, but Peter was not. Simon Peter was an experienced fisherman. He could handle being on the Sea of Galilee during storms without getting sick. He knew the business. He knew when to fish, when to mend nets, and when to take a break. He was a top dog fisherman, but he was an underdog in spiritual things.
As a young Jewish boy, Simon would have started out in his family and synagogue learning the scriptures. He would have been taught to memorize the first 5 books of the Bible and if he could do that he would move on to higher levels of learning. If he could not do that, he would be sent home to learn a trade or enter the family business. Because Peter was an experienced fisherman, we know that at some point he didn’t measure up in spiritual things. He didn’t have what it takes to be a religious or spiritual leader. He was an underdog. But as we heard last week, God doesn’t see underdogs and God had more in store for Peter’s life. Luke 5:1-5.
Peter had worked all night and he had caught nothing. It was now daytime and you don’t fish during the day because the fish see the sun shining on the water and are scared away. Instead of being out on the water, Peter is on the shore mending his nets. Jesus sees the empty boats and asks Peter if he can use it as a floating stage for him to preach to the people. After a time of teaching, Jesus asked Peter to move out into deeper water and put his nets down to catch some fish. Peter is tired and he has caught nothing. He is tired and tired of failing.
I’m tired and I’m tired of failing. Have you ever said that in your life? I’m tired of trying to work hard in school and never getting ahead. I’m tired of giving my all at work and watching everyone else get ahead. I’m tired of serving my family and still seeing things fall apart. I’m tired of fighting this disease, this illness, this physical limitation or emotional situation and never getting ahead. I’m tired and I’m tired of failing. We have all been there and when we feel this way it can lead us to think about giving up. We start thinking, I’m an underdog and I always will be.
And so here is underdog excuse #3, I’m tired and I’m tired of failing. With David the excuse that could have held him back was, I’m not qualified. With Esther it was, the odds are against me. With Peter it was, I’m tired and I’m tired of failing. Look Jesus, we fished all night, and no offense, but we know more about fishing than you do. This is not the time to go out into deeper waters. We all feel this way at times in life. Tired of always trying to get ahead and ending up behind. Tired of giving all we have only to be put down by others. Just plain tired. Underdog tired.
Peter felt this way, but from his story we learn three lessons about how to overcome these underdog feelings and excuses. The first lesson is this: Jesus often asks us to take another turn. Just when we are ready to give quit, Jesus says, give it one more try. Step out again. While our tendency might be to give up and give in, Jesus asks us to keep going. We can’t define ourselves as an underdog because Jesus is going to ask us to take another turn.
Sometimes we use the underdog excuse of being tired and we don’t actually quit but we begin to just go through the motions. In relationships we just go along to get along but we aren’t really working at healing or restoring or deepening our relationships. This is also true in our relationship with God. We go through the motions of worship. We sing and pray and listen to the sermon, but we aren’t really engaged in opening ourselves up to God. We tried small groups and Bible studies a few times, but it never really spoke to us. I served once, but nobody noticed me or thanked me or appreciated my being there so I’m not doing it again.
I’m sure we have all had days at work where we have kind of given up – but we are still working. We go through the motions but we aren’t really engaged, we aren’t focused. We aren’t in the game because we are tired, and tired of spinning our wheels and never getting ahead. So we don’t have to actually quit and drop out of things to give up and give in, it can be an attitude that keeps us down, but in all of these situations where we use this underdog excuse of being tired, Jesus comes along and says, let’s give it another try.
Where have you given in and given up? Where have you called it quits and find yourself just going through the motions? What dreams and plans for your life have you let go of because you’re tired and tired of never getting head? In these areas, and maybe more, God is saying to us, let’s keep going. Take another turn, give it another try, and this time, I’ll be in the boat with you.
That’s what makes Peter’s next try different – Jesus is in the boat with him. When we get to the end of our strength and ability and God says, give it another try, Jesus is right there with us, and when we choose God’s way, there is always more. Luke 5:5-7.
This is the second lesson we learn from underdog Peter, when we choose God’s way, there is always more. Peter moved out into deeper water and let down his nets because Jesus asked him to. He did things God’s way and when he did he got more – more fish than he ever expected, more fish than his boat could hold, more fish than he had probably ever seen in his life.
One of the things we need to understand here is that the miracle of God giving more came in response to Peter’s faith and obedience. Too often we want God to move in our lives and fill our boats before we will trust him. Like many people in Jesus’ day, we want the miracle so we can place our faith in him instead of expecting a miracle because we have faith in him. God wants to do so much more in all of our lives but he is waiting for us to come to him in faithfulness and obedience. He is waiting for us for us to come to him with a willingness to do things his way and not our way. If we can do that, God can then start to fill our boat.
What is it that God wants to fill in our lives today? Does God want to fill your marriage or family with some peace and healing? Does God want to fill your life with a meaningful job, an experience in school that opens new opportunities and give a sense of direction? Does God want to fill us with physical, emotional, spiritual healing and hope? If there is more that we want and need in life – God will give it, but we have to come to God on his terms and his way – not our own.
In 1983, I knew that I wanted to serve God with my life. I was open to every path that people talked about except one – I was not going to be a pastor. I would be a missionary. I would work in Christian radio, music, or TV. I would be a chaplain. I would do just about anything but be a pastor. I wanted to serve God on my terms. My way. And I came up empty and tired again and again. It was in seminary that God said, Hey Andy, let’s try this again, but this time do it my way. Go in my direction.
Reluctantly I served in a local church, actually, I took the internship because of the financial help it would provide for school, but it wasn’t long before I found God filling my heart and life with joy and meaning and purpose and love and direction. I loved being involved in the local church and by the end of the year had found how to be faithful to God’s call to serve. I stopped trying to do it my way and started doing it God’s way, and that made all the difference.
When we come to the end of what we can do and begin to trust God, it is then that God can start to do more in our lives than we can imagine, but we have to keep going. We have to be willing to give it another try, but this time to do it God’s way with Jesus in the boat with us.
Peter was tired, but kept going. He chose God’s way and experienced a miracle of more fish than he had ever seen in his life, but this was not the end. Peter had always been a top dog fisherman, but he’s still an underdog in spiritual things and he still feels this way. Luke 5:8-11
Jesus, I’m not worthy to be around you, I’m a true underdog in spiritual things, but as we have seen throughout this series, God doesn’t see underdogs. Jesus doesn’t see an underdog in Peter which is why Jesus invites Peter to fish for bigger fish. This is the third lesson to learn from Peter. Jesus invites us to fish for bigger fish. Jesus invited Peter to be his disciple, his follower. Peter is being asked to be a spiritual leader. He is no longer an underdog but being called by the ultimate top dog to follow him.
Look at how this story ends. Peter leaves everything and follows Jesus. He just won the lottery of fishing, he reeled in the catch of a lifetime, and he leaves it behind to follow Jesus. Peter now realizes that there is something more important in his life than fish. There are bigger fish to catch and there is more important work to do. Peter leaves behind this amazing gift because he is more interested in being with the giver. Can I say that again?
While all the things that God wants to fill our hearts and lives with are good and important, they pale in comparison to the relationship we can have with the one who gives the gifts and fills us up. Is the gift of restored and healthy relationships, physical or emotional healing, more purposeful jobs, or more faithful service the end that we are seeking, or are we looking for more of Jesus? Peter wasn’t content with the gift – he wanted the giver. He wasn’t content with the miracle, we wanted to know and be with the power behind the miracle. He wasn’t content knowing Jesus could give more, he wanted more of Jesus.
While Jesus can give us more, what will forever change our underdog lives is knowing that we can be more if we are willing to go with Jesus. There are bigger fish waiting in all our lives. There is more, so much more that God has for us if we will stop saying, I’m tired and start walking with Jesus.
Underdogs – I’m Too Tired
Read Peter’s story in Luke 5:1-11.
● Where in your life do you feel tired, and tired of trying?
● Where in your life do you feel empty?
● What will it take for you to trust that God wants to give you more?
3 Lessons from Peter
1. Jesus often asks us to take another turn.
● Where is God asking you to give it another try?
● Where is God saying, “don’t give up yet”?
● What will it take for you to take another turn?
2. When we choose God’s Way there is always MORE.
● Where do you need to stop doing things your way and start doing things God’s way?
● What keeps you from fully embracing God’s way and God’s path for your life?
● Have you ever asked for the miracle before you were obedient?
● Where is God asking you to be obedient so he can bring his miracle?
3. Jesus invites us to fish for bigger fish.
● Where have you settled for the gift instead of the giver?
● Identify one way you can chase after Jesus instead of settling for his gifts.
● What would it look like for you to love God with ALL your heart and soul and mind and strength?
● What are the bigger fish God is calling you to go after?