A few years ago, I visited some friends who had a wayward dog named Fred. As a last resort, they installed an electronic fence to keep Fred from wandering the neighbourhood. Although the fence line was invisible to the eye, a somewhat bulky electric collar created an unpleasant sensation that intensified as Fred neared the borders of his confines.
At first, Fred bravely defied his newly set limitations and jumped the invisible fence. But after a few shock treatments, he determined that as much as he loved his freedom, leaving the yard was no longer worth the pain.
After a year or so, I asked my friends how the invisible fence was working. They told me that the batteries in Fred’s collar had died at least six months earlier, but he stayed in the yard despite the fact that there was nothing holding him back from total freedom. The only barrier was in his mind.
In Luke 5, Jesus asked Peter to launch into the deep and put out his nets for a catch. After a full night of fishing with no success, Peter objected, based on his experience in the past. Before we go any further, you need to know that everyone who has ever done anything significant for God has also failed at some time in their past. You might not hear many sermons about the years in the desert where God prepared Moses, but if you’ve been there, you know how hard it is to overcome your feelings of inadequacy and move forward in God’s plan for your life. A false perception of past experience, along with doubts and fears can create an invisible barrier in your mind, even when the Lord has clearly opened the way before you. Fear of failure can even cause you to reason in your mind that it’s just not worth the pain to try again.
Even though Peter vocalized his doubt, he obeyed Jesus and launched out into the deep one more time. Sometimes, God will ask you to do things that don’t make sense, but this is the test. When you know it’s God’s voice, will you obey without hesitation or will you procrastinate indefinitely until the opportunity passes and you can relax again in the confines of your safety zone?
When Jesus asks you to launch out into the deep, He is asking you to leave the shallow safety of the familiar shore and get out of your comfort zone. He is asking you to let go of whatever or whomever is giving you a false sense of security and enter into waters that are over your head, to go to a place where you will be vulnerable and dependent on Him and do something that is beyond your ability. Even though you may have tried and failed in the past, Jesus is asking you once more to trust Him.
The good news is that breaking the barrier is easier than you think. The minute Peter pulled up the anchor, he had broken through the invisible barrier. The enemy no longer had power to hold Peter within the confines of his past. When you obey the leading God has given you and take one little step forward, it’s done. You’ve faced your fear and moved beyond the limitations that were holding you back. Even if you’re only one inch beyond where you were before, you’ve shown the enemy he can no longer keep you confined. When you step out in the leading God has given you, you will be met with great success – so much so, your nets might even break.
‘Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.’ Luke 5:10