There’s a beautiful stillness to the early morning. I find that’s especially true after a snowfall, even if it’s just a light dusting like this morning. The world seems so peaceful and unblemished. I’m up early today, unable to sleep but relishing the feel of the morning now that I’m up. There’s a dog barking far in the distance and the rumble of the coffee pot in the next room as it too starts its day. But in all other ways there’s a deep, quiet, comforting stillness. I wonder how many people are up right now with just a dim light or two on, drinking in the quiet of the morning as they wait for their families to wake.
This morning I came across a bible verse that caught my attention. It tells of Jesus’ disciples fishing after his death. After fishing all night with nothing to show for their efforts, early in the morning they saw a man standing on the shore who called to them asking how their fishing was going. The disciples yelled back that their efforts had been in vain, they hadn’t caught any fish. In response, the man told them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. They complied and hauled in more fish than their net could handle. In that moment, they realized the man was Jesus.
I had a restless night last night. I’m a light sleeper and the shuffling of my dogs, neighborhood sounds, and the thoughts in my head kept me awake. I’m standing at a fork in the road in my professional life, searching for the answer to what’s next for me. After nearly 20 years in sales and management, climbing the corporate ladder chasing the American dream, I’m craving something different. Something simpler. Something that feeds my soul.
Those things I know, but what job that actually is remains uncertain. My default is to sort it out, use my experiences and my intelligence to forge a path forward. To make something happen. So I try. I wrestle with with idea after idea, forcing them to fit into some semblance of a plan. It keeps me up at night, the searching for the answer. And in the morning, I find I have nothing to show for my efforts. I have no fish in my boat.
When I give in to the sleeplessness and get up early, cracking my bible, seeking connection and solace from my thoughts, I’m met with stillness. Quiet. There’s something peaceful about it, so peaceful it stands in stark contrast with the last eight hours of restlessness. It’s soothing. Restorative.
Perhaps that’s how the disciples felt that morning. After a long unfruitful night, in the stillness of the early morning, Jesus appeared. And gave them the answer. “Throw your net to the right side and you will find some fish,” he tells them. They immediately hauled in an overflowing net full of fish.
I wonder how often I’m like the disciples, sitting in a boat over a huge school of fish but fishing on the wrong side. How often do I cast my net in vain, trying to make something happen, to force answers to my questions rather than waiting for Jesus to guide me?
I don’t think it was by chance that Jesus showed up on the shore in the stillness of the early morning, after the disciples had exhausted their own efforts. Perhaps that is the only time they would have been receptive to suggestions from a man on the shore, when the weariness of an unsuccessful night made them less guarded or prideful.
And I think there’s a message for me in that. Get some sleep. Don’t waste time forcing answers and plotting my course. Rest. Then seek Jesus in the stillness of the morning and cast my net where he directs me. For only there will I find my abundance of fish.