“And he [Jesus] entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake… And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.” Luke 5:3-11 brackets added
When Jesus tells a bunch of fishermen who haven’t caught anything all night to “launch out into the deep” and let down their nets to catch fish, Simon Peter chooses to obey anyway. But not before he makes it abundantly clear they have “toiled” all night without catching a single fish.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary online includes in its definition of toil, “struggle,” “battle,” “laborious effort,” and “long strenuous fatiguing labor.” Strong’s concordance says the original Greek word translated into toil also is, “to feel fatigue, labour, toil, wearied.” The fishermen, who had toiled, or strived, all night in their own strength to catch fish to no avail, were done fishing! But Jesus had other plans. He took them on a fishing trip during which their lives would be changed forever. They were not only about to catch more fish than imaginable, but Jesus Christ would use this experience to call them to forsake all, follow Him, and become fishermen of people to help lead them into His forever Kingdom.
They caught nothing when they toiled in their own strength without Jesus. They were likely exhausted! They couldn’t handle all the fish they caught when they stopped toiling in their strength and yielded to Christ; everything changed. They had found their Lord, Savior, future, eternity, life’s pathway and purpose, strength, direction, and no longer needed to exhaustedly toil, strive, and labor in vain trusting in themselves and looking into empty nets. Their lives would never be the same now that they had surrendered themselves to Jesus by hearing and obeying Him.
How many of us are toiling, striving in our flesh, weary if not exhausted, ready to give up, hopeless, discouraged, worn out, frustrated, getting nowhere, or getting somewhere but sensing it’s not where we should be, looking dejectedly into empty nets, needing desperately to stop toiling and to turn to the Lord? Turn, my friend, turn! So often I still find myself toiling! We all must turn to the Lord moment by moment, submitting to Him breath by breath, forever!