By Michael E. Brooks
“When he had stopped speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.’ But Simon answered and said to him, ‘Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at your word I will let down the net.’ And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking” (Luke 5:4-6 NKJV).
On my first mission trip to the continent of Africa, as we drove from Swaziland back into South Africa for me to catch my flight back to the U.S., we stopped for a day of fishing at a lake where American black bass had been introduced.
The evangelist whom I had been visiting had borrowed the cabin and boat of a friend for our use. We got on the lake about 9:00 a.m. and on the third cast I caught a 4 pound largemouth. I was excited. Certainly we would have a great day of fishing and catching. That was not to be.
Three of us (the evangelist, his teenage son, and myself) stayed in the boat and cast constantly all day long. It was not until sunset (6:00 p.m. or later) that we got another bite. Once they started however, it was great. In the hour of fishing remaining we caught 9 or 10 additional fish. It wound up being a productive and enjoyable day.
I imagine Peter and his companions felt a lot like the three of us did at mid-afternoon that day. “Why are we still here? Should we just quit and go to the cabin?” Two things kept us on the lake. One obviously was the memory and promise of that first early fish. The other was the fact that fishing itself, not just catching, is enjoyable and rewarding. Whether any more fish bit or not, we were on a beautiful lake, with good friends, doing something we enjoyed. What more did we need?
Paul wrote, “And let us not be weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9). God rewards his workers (1 Corinthians 15:58). Good things do come to those who wait, especially to those who continue to do good and live righteously while they endure.
As we labor and become tired and discouraged let us remember the blessings which have come to us in the past through our work. The Hebrew writer reminded discouraged readers of their previous sufferings, but also of the joy they had known even in the midst of their trials (Hebrews 10:32-34).
He urges them, “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:35-36). Their earlier joy contained promise of future reward.
Labor itself provides blessings and joy. There are few pleasures deeper and more lasting than the satisfaction of a worthwhile job well done. Worshiping God, serving others, and bringing the message of salvation to the lost are tasks that are far from unpleasant. They have intrinsic worth, and provide serendipitous (“valuable or agreeable things not sought for”) rewards.
We stayed on that African lake during hours of apparently fruitless effort largely because we were having fun anyway. As Christians, we preach, visit, pray and sing in part because we enjoy doing those things, whether or not they seem productive at the time. Of course we also do them because we know that ultimately great reward will come.
By Michael E. Brooks