The Other Side of the BoatJulia Carlton
“He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’ ‘No,’ they answered. 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.” – John 21:5-6
Do you have any recurring problems in your life? Since this is a personal finance devotional, let’s focus the question on money. Are there some financial issues you’ve been trying to resolve, or money-related goals you’ve been trying to accomplish, only to run into the same roadblocks around every turn?
Despite your best efforts, are you weighed down with the burden of debt that refuses to disappear? Do you keep having the same financial arguments with your spouse? Does the “empty” light keep flashing on your savings tank?
A Fishing Tale
A long time ago, a couple of experienced fishermen named Simon Peter and Thomas set out for a night of fishing. Since they were professionals, we can assume they used all the right equipment and all the right techniques. They did what they knew to do. And they came up empty. They tried again and again for an entire night, but when the morning sun came up they had caught nothing.
Then they made a brilliant decision. They took in some coaching from the greatest Coach who ever lived, and they followed His advice. They cast their nets on the other side of the boat. And they caught more fish than they ever imagined.
If you’re facing a recurring financial issue, maybe it’s time you tried the same approach.
First, take it to God. The Bible says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).
Second, do what you sense Him telling you to do. All too often, I have tried to resolve problems on my own, with my own “wisdom.” But as a truly wise person once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
A Personal Example
For much of the time that I have been writing and speaking about money full-time, whenever there has been a challenging circumstance, my wife, Jude, has come alongside me with encouraging words or a helpful verse of Scripture. Her encouragement has meant more to me than I could ever adequately express. However – and this is huge – somehow I came to see her role in “my” work as that of an encourager.
Then I came to a very painful realization. Many times Jude has offered specific business advice that I have not acted on, only to discover some time later that she was exactly right. But even that realization was not enough to change my behavior. I continued to resist her business ideas. Even worse, I sometimes dismissed her ideas outright.
And then I came across a verse that rocked my world: “Be good husbands to your wives. Honor them, delight in them. As women they lack some of your advantages. But in the new life of God’s grace, you’re equals. Treat your wives, then, as equals so your prayers don’t run aground” (1 Peter 3:7 MSG).
It was bad enough that I wasn’t treating Jude with the love and respect she deserves. But here toward the end of the Bible is a spiritual law as powerful and consistent as gravity: Show any hint of disrespect toward your wife and your prayers will be hindered!
I had been stuck over certain business decisions for some time. I had been praying about them, but not sensing any clear answers. Finally, God directed my eyes to those words in 1 Peter. In essence, he told me to cast my net in a different direction. Stop trying to solve this or that problem and start listening to your wife!
So I did. Whenever we talked business, I started listening to her much more intently. I started trying on her ideas as if trying on clothing I would have normally dismissed as not my style. And guess what? I discovered that Jude has some amazing ideas. The more I have listened to her ideas, the more my eyes have been opened to a whole new set of possibilities. I have never felt more excited about the future of OUR business.
What About You?
I meet lots of people with recurring debt problems. Some have worked their way out of debt only to get right back in. If that’s you, begin casting your net in a different direction by considering the question: how serious are you?
Proverbs 3:27-28 states: “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow—when you now have it with you” (emphasis mine).
Are you serious enough about getting out of debt to really think about what “is in your power to act?” Are you serious enough that you would drop your home Internet connection to free up money for debt repayment? Are you serious enough to go from a two-car family to a one-car family? Are you serious enough to stop using credit cards? Maybe it’s time to do something different. Maybe it’s time to cast your net in a new direction.
Where are you in need of a different financial approach? Or, if you’ve tried “casting your net in a different direction,” what’s been your experience?