Fishing with Jesus
I dedicate this to the late Jim Pallo and to Don Lyle, who love fishing and serving Jesus as we all seek to tell others about His love.
Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” (Matthew 4:9 NLT).
And He said to them, “Follow Me [as My disciples, accepting Me as your Master and Teacher and walking the same path of life that I walk], and I will make you fishers of men.”(Matthew 4:9 Amplified)
When I stretch way back in my life, some of my very fondest memories are fishing at my grandparents' cottage, on the dock. My grandparents had two cottages on the Bay of Quinte, located at Pete’s Point, across from Belleville. It was probably a 20-30 minute drive so it was easily accessible. My grandfather had built a monstrous dock to fit the huge wooden cruiser he had. I just loved to fish. I was always trying to talk someone into taking me down to the cottage so I could fish off the dock. They would place me there, with a little life jacket on, and I wouldn’t budge. I would wait, patiently, for my first bite. I thought I had it made and I did!
As I thought back to those days, fondly, it struck me how many similarities there were between my experience of fishing and reaching out for Jesus. Maybe these will encourage you as you share His love.
The first is love. I just loved to go fishing; it was a passion for me. I also believe that love is the greatest stimulant in the Christian life to reach out. As we reflect on how much God loved us (John 3:16), in sending His Son, it motivates us, through grace, to reach out to others. “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins” (1 John 4:10 NLT). God’s love is, and always will be, the great motivator!
Fishing made me full of joy. I was a happy little kid when I heard “Let’s go to the cottage.” I was the first one out the door. J.B. Philipps translates Romans 5:5 like this, “This doesn’t mean, of course, that we have only a hope of future joys—we can be full of joy here and now even in our trials and troubles. Taken in the right spirit these very things will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character, and a character of this sort produces a steady hope, a hope that will never disappoint us. Already we have some experience of the love of God flooding through our hearts by the Holy Spirit given to us.” My love of fishing created joy; our love of serving Jesus does the same. And, my friends, the world notices!
They say variety is the spice of life – well it certainly filled my fishing life with interest. I caught perch, sun fish, rock bass and small mouth bass; I even caught a huge eel and a giant snapping turtle (and I mean giant!). My little fishing career was quite interesting (LOL). Fishing for fish and fishing for people is very similar – they come in different varieties, different shapes and sizes and different complexities. But they have one thing in common – they are hungry! In the end, people are looking for that void to be filled in their lives that can only be filled with Jesus. He is the answer for humankind’s deepest longing.
It is funny that, at this early age, I always reached out to the Lord with a little prayer to have lots of success. It reminds me that without the work of the Holy Spirit, we are powerless. Just like my little fishing days, we need to keep prayer as the central focus of all our activities (a simple, honest prayer, that asks God to help us and to open the eyes and hearts of those around us to “grab the bait").
And, of course, patience. I would literally sit for hours on that dock, patiently waiting for the fish to bit. Some days were pretty lean and some days were much better. We need patience in dealing with people “Love is patient…” (1 Corinthians 13:4 NIV). When I fished, there were many challenges and many obstacles, but I didn’t give up. It will be the same with people, don’t kid yourself. Be patient with people, hang in. Remember, no one is beyond the grace of God. I found that sometimes my catches would come at unexpected places and times. Remember, the Holy Spirit, just like my little worm, is at work!
In the end, it is a team effort: God, ourselves and others. I never would have gotten to fish if it wasn’t for the help of others. So, let’s pull together as we reach out to fish for Jesus.
God bless you. Happy, and fruitful, fishing
- Pastor Ralph