5,6 “Jesus said to them, ‘Children, do you have any fish?’ They answered Him, ‘No.’ He said to them, ‘Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish.”
John 21:5,6 (ESV)
Jesus called out from the shoreline to seven of his frustrated fishing friends, "Friends, haven't you any fish?"
"No," they answered (they hadn't caught anything all night).
He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some."
When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
Many sports teams are built around this simple, threefold mantra:
Play hard. Play smart. Play together.
That's how (team) success is usually found. This is like fishing on the left side of the boat.
But Jesus' disciples discovered that the left side of the boat may not always produce very well. They were no doubt “playing hard.” They were up all night fishing. Their effort was unquestioned.
They also “played together.” No one bailed out. All seven of them were still in the boat at daybreak. No abandoning ship for them.
Playing smart seemed hardest. No matter where these pros looked, they couldn't come up with wins. It seemed like the fish were avoiding them. The left side of the boat had produced nothing.
Maybe the struggle happened so that Jesus could teach his men (and us) another life lesson, about another side of boats, the “right side.” This side accents three other vital truths that will no doubt keep us moving forward:
JESUS KNOWS. He saw there were no fish caught even though He wasn't in the boat. He was far from the boat and yet He knew what was in it. Jesus knows way more than we think.
JESUS SEES. He sees more than we do. He knows where the fish are. He sees solutions we can't. There's another side to our boat. He has terrific vision.
JESUS CARES. His buddies were pros who fell miserably short. And Jesus cared to enter this picture. He always seeks to enter our pain.
He shows up in the midst of our disappointment, failure, frustration. He always shows up and offers a way out, a way up. Look for Him.
Always remember the simple wisdom: play hard, play smart, play together. But don't forget the right-side wisdom and fruitfulness that surely comes as we follow our Jesus who knows, sees, cares.
A prayer to consider: LORD Jesus, keep me on the winning track. Help me to keep playing hard, smart and together with You and others for a lifetime. Energize me even more again today through Your “right side” reminders: You know, You see, You care. Amen.