I am a doer and a worker who comes from a long line of doers and workers. We are pioneers and pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps kind of people who value long days and even longer hours. My ancestors are farmers and hustlers in their own right—providing for large families off the land they lived on. My parents are business owners who have built something rather beautiful and astounding from the ground up.
In its best moments, I believe something rather sacred lives in these spaces. After all, Father God created out of nothing. He worked and built and fashioned humanity out of dust. Work isn’t our curse or burden to bear. I believe it’s a gift. Creating, making, contributing, building something wonderful is a gift.
But in its worst moments, all this working and striving and hustling can be broken and damaging. It’s exhausting and can leave you ragged and breathless in the cruelest of ways. We have a way of twisting what was made for our good. Work—I believe—is one of those things we bend and shift in so many ways.
We aren’t Machines
And I am one of the worst offenders. Recently in a meeting with our wedding officiant, our pastor asked my fiancé and me how things were coming along for the wedding.
“Are you getting stuff done? How’s it coming together?”
These are the questions we’re getting asked almost weekly because in approximately one month, we’ll stand in front of family and friends and the Father and commit to forever. But in this meeting, Luke spoke up before I could.
“Kate is a machine,” he said with wide eyes filled with both awe and a little concern. At the same time, I saw our pastor nod his head. Having worked with me full-time in the church office, he knows enough about me to know the truth.
I had to tell my pride to take a back seat. We weren’t always made to be machines. The Father didn’t design us to work and produce and spit out lives of meaning through our doing and creating. More and more, I believe He invites us to create alongside Him, relying on Him, depending on Him—all for the joy of reflecting His image through our work.
You and I have limits and margins and capacities, and while I’m a firm believer that the Father can and does increase our capacity in every season, I have to remind myself that I’ve experienced this in the healthiest ways when I’ve relied on Him, depended on Him.
Invited to the Breakfast on the Beach
There’s this beautiful story in John 21 that moves me to tears and to my knees. After Jesus had risen from the dead and appeared to the disciples, they seemed to be in a wandering state. Their life went from the chaos and joy and excitement of following Jesus to a quiet, question-filled existence. I bet that had to feel jarring to say the least.
One night as they stood on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”
I love Peter. I get Him. He gives me hope. In a moment of questions and maybe feeling antsy and wondering what was next, Peter decided to do something, to work. So he and his friends fished all night but caught nothing. Nothing. All that work—casting and recasting the nets—for nothing.
As the sun began to rise, they saw a man and a small fire on the shore. They didn’t know who He was, but He told them to throw in their nets once again. When they did, they caught over 150 fish. And their hearts suddenly remembered. This had happened before with Jesus.
Peter immediately jumped out of the boat and swam to shore. I imagine He laughed and wept and clung to Jesus. And out of the corner of his eyes, I bet he saw it then—fish roasting on the fire.
Jesus made breakfast for them on the beach with the very thing they couldn’t catch all night. No amount of working or striving or hustling made a single fish swim into their nets. But with one word, Jesus filled their nets to their breaking point. And on the shore, in the place of rest with Him, Jesus already had what their bodies so longed for—food, fish roasting on the fire.
The Invitation Still Stands
Whew. Maybe I’m the only one who needs this reminder today, but I doubt it. In our hustle culture, it’s easy to twist working and striving. I am all for working hard and building something beautiful out of nothing. After all, this is what the Father did, and we were made in His image.
But these days, I need the reminder of this story—that no matter how many times they threw their nets into the sea, the disciples didn’t catch anything. No amount of work brought what they so desperately wanted until they listened to Jesus and let Him do what they could not.
Friends, the same is true for us. Yes, go fishing and cast your net again and again. Show up and do the work, the things God has called you to do. But don’t give into hustle culture. Resist the temptation to rely on yourself. We serve a God who longs to make us breakfast on the beach and serve us there.
Today, maybe He longs for you to experience more rest even in your working. The disciples still cast their net one more time. They still rowed hard to keep their boats from sinking, but it was all because of Jesus’ work.
May we do the same.
And may we look up and see the beauty of a God who has already made us breakfast and longs to serve us.