Empty Nets

[ 10 ] Comments

by NotMolly

I’m pretty sure I’m on a List at church. It’s the Perma-Sub List. I’m also pretty sure I’m on that List because the leaders don’t have to worry about me heckling the sub if I am, in fact, that sub. I end up subbing a lot when we’re in Isaiah, actually. I have a reputation. I’m okay with that.

I’m working on a similar reputation for all the other books of scripture, too. It’s a life goal.

Calling the Fishermen, courtesy of LDS.orgOne of my favorite subbing experiences happened while we were studying the New Testament: specifically, when Jesus is meeting up with Simon Peter, James, and John, and calling them to be disciples, to leave their nets and follow Him. Within the passages are the obvious historical events: Christ is assembling those who would help Him in his ministry, and carry on after He was finished.

Reading it several times, the thought stuck with me: these fishermen had a pretty steady life. They knew what to expect every day, and could count on some constants. They would rise, and fish. Sometimes, they would catch fish. Sometimes, not so much. They would go home. They would sleep, and do it again. This life of a fisherman had some safety to it.

Then here comes Christ, and He challenges their safety. Put out from shore again, even though your nets were empty last time. Believe. Change. Leave your nets and follow Me. Give up the safety of your former life, and I can give you so much more.

And they straightway left their nets to follow Him.

The symbol of an empty net kept coming back, every time I tried to steer my thoughts toward the other very valid concepts in the Sunday School lesson manual.

Those nets were empty when Christ arrived. All their labor, all their effort, all their toil and desire and skill, had profited them absolutely nothing. The nets were empty. Their “safety” was an illusion.

Christ arrives in our lives and challenges us to leave the illusory safety of the nets we’ve been casting. He asks us to put out into deep waters, to trust Him, to leave behind what we thought we knew we wanted. He asks us to take the risk: to follow Him, with no promise of ease or riches or people to applaud. He promises to replace our empty nets with more bounty than we ever thought possible.

But first, we have to leave our empty nets.

  • What illusions and emptiness do we leave behind on our path of discipleship? 
  • Is there a significant Net you’ve had filled through deliberate and active faith?

About NotMolly

Liz blogs as NotMolly, and lives on the western reaches of the Rocky Mountains with her Tall, Dark, and Slightly Neanderthal husband, their four beloved Minions, a huge number of books and assorted musical instruments, and four very spoiled pet hens. She can occasionally be somewhat serious and ponder The Big Stuff. And then she'll probably lapse into puns again...

10 Responses to Empty Nets

  1. Stephen R. Marsh says:

    I saw you had hens and … we have them too.

    I think that leaving security behind as an adult is hard. Peter had a wife. He had family. When he left his nets, it was not a young single man on an adventure, but instead an adult with responsibility making a choice that reached beyond himself.

    Those can be hard. Courage to make such choices is a skill we often need to learn again when we have aged.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Cheryl says:

    I’m reminded about the missionaries in the early days of the Church, and how they left their families for years (3-5 on average, if I remember correctly).

    I love what you said about the illusions of that secure life, though. I know I have many empty nets that I thought were full, until they were taken away and I realized that they were empty the entire time.

  3. Paul says:

    Love this post and this imagery.

    Peter’s life is so poetic in his leaving his net not once, but twice (at the beginning and end of the Savior’s ministry), reminding me that even after all he saw, all he knew, even Peter had to continue to leave the net behind.

    Nets I must leave? That I think I know things. I generally think I know better (than anyone), but I certainly do not know better than God. But I must regularly set down that empty knowing net and follow Him, instead.

    Great image. Great lesson.


    • Cheryl says:

      Paul, I’m the same way. I think more than anything, the net I leave the most is pride in order to attain humility. And not the pride of thinking I am better than others, but the pride in thinking I know myself and my life better than God. I hear you!

  4. jendoop says:

    Oh! This is sooo good! The thing I find really interesting is that casting that net in can be as addicting as gambling. We put Christ off, saying that we want to try throwing the net in again, just one more time, or 5 more times, then we’ll really follow him. Or we do leave to follow him but keep thinking about that net sitting on the shore waiting for us. We follow him but as soon as it gets quiet we run back to our safety net. This is why permanently leaving our comfort zone is important, only then will we be far enough away from our nets that they’re no longer a temptation- we then must fully lean on Christ.

  5. Deila says:

    I was immediately drawn into your post, love your voice and identify with your “list” theory. I enjoyed your thoughts on the net. I often feel that God is asking me to throw my net out where it seems illogical.

  6. Sarah says:

    I am in the midst of throwing my net into illogical waters, and there is no way of knowing in advance if my feelings will bear fruit. I have taken great comfort in a quote by Elder Holland:

    “After you have gotten the message, after you have paid the price to feel his love and hear the word of the Lord, “go forward.” Don’t fear, don’t vacillate, don’t quibble, don’t whine. You may, like Alma going to Ammonihah, have to find a route that leads an unusual way, but that is exactly what the Lord was doing here for the children of Israel. Nobody had ever crossed the Red Sea this way, but so what? There’s always a first time. With the spirit of revelation, dismiss your fears and wade in with both feet.”

    I’m wading in and casting my net on the other side of the boat, and it is with fear and trembling, but I am doing it.

    • NotMolly says:

      I think that’s a great way to go! Living by individual revelation and inspiration can be terrifying, but really, is there any other path that really leads to where we NEED to be?

      Glad to share the imagery. 🙂

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