We’ve probably all heard the old tale of how monkeys are caught. Some glittering object is put into a trap and the monkey grabs it. The trap is made in such a way that all the monkey has to do is let go of the glittery possession and they can escape, but they don’t. They would rather hold on to the thing that will end up being the impetus for their demise.
I have no idea if this works in actuality. A quick Google search wasn’t definitive. However, the reason it has probably gained such traction is that we all struggle with letting go. We are prone to cling to things – whether it’s an old relationship, a favorite toy, or our high school yearbooks. We hold on to what we have, afraid that what we might get in return won’t be worth it.
Peter seems to have had this problem. He leaves the fishing business in order to follow Jesus (Mt. 4:18-22), but upon Jesus’ crucifixion he goes right back to the boats (Jn. 21:1-3). He had said he left everything to follow Him, but it was in word only. When things got tough he went back to what was known, what was comfortable. He went back to the past, because he was afraid of what the future would hold.
And to me, it seems the problem is that the nets were waiting for his return. He still hung on to his old life, even when he was living in the new. He hadn’t abandoned his old self; he had just set it aside for a bit.
What he needed to do was to burn the nets; to incinerate any trappings of his former life. To trust in the One that he declared was the Messiah – resting in the assurance that just as he had taken care of Peter’s past, so He would the future.
Looking back, it’s easy for us to see this, because we know the end of the story. We know that Jesus would go to Peter, prepare a meal, and would mend the fences that were broken by Peter’s denial. Much in the same way we know that at the end of our lives everything we’ve let go of won’t compare to the glory that God’s prepared. But Peter didn’t have that perspective. He just knew that he was alone, and that he had abandoned the One who loved him the most. So his shame and confusion prompted him to return.
But he wouldn’t have had that option…if only he had burned the nets.
Please share your thoughts…how have you let go of the past in order to prepare for the future God has called you to?