The Sheer Joy of Catching Fish!

The Sheer Joy of Catching Fish!

Let me start with a trivia question: did Jesus promise the 12 Disciples they would be fishers of men or catchers of them? I’ll bet anything; the answer will surprise many of you.

Let’s be honest, fishing is fun, but catching fish is where it’s at. That’s why adults stack the deck in favor of kids catching fish whenever possible. Take my father-in-law, for example; the kids call him GrandJerry, and how he would ease down to his dock seconds before the kids skipped and skedaddled that way. Each fish reeled in resulted more from food floating on the surface, fistfuls he’d just thrown out, than anything else. My kids remain largely unaware even to this day. 😇

Jesus, Himself, had an affinity for the sea, marine life, and ships. He spoke while seated in a boat, a symbolic gesture asserting His authority, which didn’t go unnoticed by His shoreline audiences. The Sea of Galilee stood out as a favorite backdrop to teach about God’s Kingdom. The tax collector Matthew recounted the preciseness by which temple tax was paid: to the cent, or drachma, from a fish’s mouth no less.

Ancient Christians adopted fish symbols to mark meeting places, identify tombs, and as a way to distinguish friends from foes. When a Christian met a stranger along the road, he or she sometimes drew one arc of the simple fish outline in the dirt. If the stranger drew the other arc, both believers knew they were in good company.
But remember, the sheer joy in fishing is catching, and Jesus reassured His Disciples that fish would indeed get caught. In Luke 5:4, Christ didn’t instruct Peter to go fish but rather “put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Unsurprisingly, the nets began bursting, requiring an additional boat. Even sharing the load, both vessels almost sank.

Jesus applied that same principle to the souls of women and men. Not only would His followers fish for them, “Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Mk. 1:17), but very soon, they would be catching them: “From now on, you will be catching men!” (Lk. 5:10) Their response was immediate: “When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.” (Lk. 5:11)

There are many directions to go as far as the application is concerned. If it’s ok, I’d like to leave you with a homework assignment: put aside spring cleaning, postpone yard work, put off errands, and take someone fishing this weekend. Especially if the word “busy” could best characterize your life. Regardless of where you live, there’s positively a body of water close by to drop a line. So don’t overthink if you can make it work or not. Just go ahead and make a plan and do it.

Take a fistful of food to share for good measure, spiritually speaking. If Jesus’ food was “to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work,” our will should be no less. (Jn. 4:34) The New Testament contains plenty of fishing stories and analogies for you to pick.
Charles Francis Adams, son of President John Quincy Adams, kept a diary. One day he entered: “Went fishing with my son today—a day wasted.” His son, Brook, also kept a diary. On that same day his entry read: “Went fishing with my father—the most wonderful day of my life!” The father thought he was wasting time fishing with his son, but his son saw it as an investment of time.
Ultimately, it’s not what gets pulled out of the water this weekend but a closer connection to another person. We all need that connectivity right now. You need it too. If that’s all that’s caught this weekend, it’s a big win in more ways than one.
As a postscript, I’d like to thank you, GrandJerry, for modeling so much of the above to all of us, including your eight grandkids. How proud you must be to watch that same little boy stooping over the pale graduate from college this weekend, in large part thanks to you. You exemplified two great investments by sharing your faith and the giving of your time. All the more reason any challenge along these lines should stick:
“There is so much that is in the Book, that can make your life’s journey wonderful. Please read it daily; it is full of joy and understanding of what is happening and why.” 3-21-22


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