Peter has become one of my favorite heroes of the faith because of the blatant transformation God did in and through him. In Peter’s pride and stubbornness, he denied Jesus three times and still became the man God used to preach a powerful message on the day of Pentecost, inviting the Holy Spirit to fall on thousands. Yet there’s one simple moment near the beginning of Peter’s ministry that has captured my attention more than any other, and it’s found in the middle of John 21. It’s a familiar moment as it is almost identical to the moment Jesus called Peter to be His disciple and partner with God for a greater purpose - the difference being, God’s sustaining grace on Peter’s life in John 21.
John 21:4-11 says:
But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. So Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you do not have any fish, do you?’ They answered Him, ‘No.’ And He said to them, ‘Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.’ So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’ So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish. So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.’ Simon Peter went up and drew the net to the land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many the net was not torn.
It is in Luke 5 where Jesus commanded Peter to cast out his nets into the deep water. God’s glory was revealed as Peter and the other disciples caught a great quantity of fish, moving Peter to come alongside Jesus and become a fisher of men (v. 10). The difference between Peter’s experience in John 21 and Luke 5 is revealed in the status of Peter’s net. In Luke 5, the disciples had enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break (v. 6). Yet in John 21, although there were so many [fish] the net was not torn (v.11).
In the magnificence of what seemed impossible to Peter, God drew him towards a purpose of leading people towards Christ; and through the same miracle God affirmed Peter he was able to do the impossible if he would allow God to gracefully sustain him along his journey. Just as God called Peter, He is calling us. To do so, we must do three things:
1. Let God Break Your Nets
Many people abandon their dreams because they don’t feel qualified to see them realized. In a lack of knowledge, resources, and/or experience, many people give up on their dreams before they even take a step towards them. But if we look at Peter’s experience it was the very lack of qualification which drew him into purpose. God provided Peter with a catch he was unable to carry - a catch so big the nets began to break. Peter, witnessing the magnitude of what he was invited into, abandoned his profession, home, and possessions to chase after a life with Jesus.
In the same way, God reveals Himself to us in ways which don’t make sense in order to call us into greatness. Our dreams which seem impossible on paper are what God uses to propel us into purpose. The audaciousness of our visions and desires are planted in us by God as motivation to abandon ourselves and say something like, “I don’t know how I’ll get the funds to start my business and I may have a terrible credit score but I’ve seen the glory within it, so let’s make it happen.” When we become aware of our ‘inadequacy’ we give God the opportunity perform the impossible. When the nets of our dreams are broken we acknowledge the glory of God in the pursuit of something greater.
2. Allow God to Develop Your Gifts
God may reveal His fullness in our lives as we dream big dreams of influencing the lives of thousands, establishing a business to help end homelessness, or become a screenplay writer with the hopes of producing monumental films. But we can’t expect these things to occur overnight. Over three years had passed from the time Jesus broke Peter’s net in Luke 5 to when God revealed His sustaining grace in John 21. Peter spent three years with Jesus, studying His lifestyle and learning how to spread the Gospel to the nations. As we embrace the weight of our purpose and the significance God wants to establish through us, we must also have the heart to let God equip us. We must continue to find opportunities to grow, fail, and find victory within ourselves as we lean into the purpose God has for us.
3. Let God Sustain You
The glory God has called you into, is the glory He will sustain. If God uses our inability and weakness to pull us near to His heart and pursue a life of purpose, significance and impact, there’s no reason why He would expect us to carry the weight of our lives on our shoulders. Yet how often do we say yes to the dreams God places in our hearts, and somewhere along the way find ourselves in a position of striving rather than reliance? In moments where we may not see any evidence or don’t feel any closer to our dreams, we take responsibility over what is happening. We abandon what God has done in us and begin pulling on our own strength to do what we once admitted we could never do alone.
It is by grace God calls us into a life alongside Him and it is by grace He intends to carry out the plans He has for us. Peter was given a glimpse into the greatness of His purpose. Three years later, after spending much time with Jesus, Jesus died on a cross. And it was when all hope seemed lost, Jesus reappeared to Peter and reminded him through God’s sustaining grace - by a catch of 153 fish - he was to do the very thing he was called to. The same God that breaks our nets is the same God who will keep them full.
I share this with you, because it’s a revelation God showed me many months ago but one I’ve recently walked through.
I studied English my first round through college with the hopes of always being a writer. For years I contemplated what I wanted to write, dabbled with a few writing platforms and even gave up a job as a writer. The dream of influencing the lives of others through my words was always in the forefront of my heart. Yet I had no idea how I was going to do it. A few months ago, I noticed Chris Cook, the host Win Today, needed content writers. Something in me said, “Why not apply. Who knows what will happen.” So I did. And a few days later I got a response being welcomed to the Win Today Collective team. It was then God broke my net. In my own eyes, I was nowhere near qualified. Sure I had an English degree, but I wasn’t a professional writer. I hadn’t posted a blog in years and I barely had anything to share with Chris. But God knew the purpose over my life and He used what seemed impossible to help relaunch the vision in my heart. It was during the same period of time I wrote a small group curriculum for Grow Church, a curriculum God used to equip me and grow in my gifts. The small group curriculum became more than just an opportunity to write. It became a journey that helped establish how I wanted to write and the identity I wanted to have, creating the very thing you are reading today. God broke my net, equipped the unqualified and sustained me through grace to launch danielbarel.com.
Again I say, the glory God has called you into, is the glory He will sustain. There is nothing God won’t accomplish through you as long as you allow Him to use the impossibilities of your dreams to carry you into their fullness.