When I was twelve years old, I had the awesome experience of tasting life on a twenty-two point five thousand acre ranch for a little over a year. Oh, I wouldn't say I was the most blessed twelve-year-old in the world. In fact, living on that ranch was about the best thing that'd ever happened to me, physically, in those twelve years. And I had probably experienced a lot more of the harsh things in life than most kids do by that age. Nevertheless, our Heavenly Father saw fit to give me more than just a few refuges from the harsh realities I had to endure.
Living there was a kid's paradise despite the fact that there was much hard work involved in caring for a ranch that size. Kids were no exception; everyone had a job to do. I doubt I could throw a hay bale over my head now and I weigh a lot more now than I did then. It was especially hard work much of the time, but I wish that every child could experience the benefits of that sort of life at least once.
My own children, my grandchildren and most children I'll ever meet will most likely never know what it's like or ever appreciate the wonderful things about that kind of life. They live in town and play video games and have computers and cable TV. I'm sure they'd shudder at the idea of chopping off their own dinner's head or pulling its fur off or feathers out, or scaling and gutting it. And the very idea of raising an animal from birth and then filling the freezer with it when it reached a specific weight would have most of them scarred for life by the memory. But our stomachs depended on those things and we simply saw them as a necessary means of survival.
One of my favorite things to do, besides exploring all the wonders of that much land and sitting under the cool rains of the little waterfall, was to saddle up a horse and take a fishing pole and my homework down to the nearest one of the nine ponds on all that acreage. Of course, I only got to do that on days when there was still daylight left after all the chores were done.
It was much more than just an escape for me. As well as all the other things it offered me, like enough fish to feed eleven people every weekend, and a quiet place to do my homework, it was a learning experience that taught me things I would later find most useful in my walk with Christ. One of those things I learned there was the fine art of casting.
How kind of my Father, knowing that I'd have many cares in my life, to teach me the art of casting. Though I must admit, I wasn't always the greatest at it. And sometimes, I still get a little clumsy with it. I had to climb a tree or two, when possible, or lose a line by jerking the tangled mess from a too high limb. There were times when I'd have had a much more prosperous catch if I hadn't scared them all away with a huge splash from putting just a little too much muscle behind my cast. And I'm sure I missed a few because my direction was totally off. Then, of course, I lost a lot of grasshoppers to turtles and snakes.
That's right ... grasshoppers. I didn't take any fishing tackle with me, save a few hooks, a couple of weights and bobbers, and a line on which to carry my catch home. All the bait I'd need was right there on the bank, blindly eating its way into just the right size for a most tasty treat to the bass, catfish and perch that were abundant in those waters. That's how we lived ... off the land. Why should we have wasted money on plastic worms and fancy flies when grasshoppers sufficed? Besides, there was a lot to learn about fishing and we'd have lost a fortune trying to learn it. I can just see my children now, gagging while the hook, in through the mouth, out through the tail, or vice-versa, pushed out the grasshopper's latest meal and bits and pieces of its innards.
As the sun began its descent, the bugs on the branches that hung over edges of the water, for some odd reason that I have yet to figure out, would begin to fall off into the water. I had only a few minutes from that time before I had to saddle up and go home in time to get there before it was too dark to see the way. But I usually caught more fish in those few minutes than I did the entire time I was there. You see, the art of casting is not necessarily being able to gently toss the bait far out into the deep water or to make rainbows with the wet twine.
A few months after I got married, my young husband (who had lived his entire life in the city limits) decided that he wanted to take me to the City Lake and teach me how to fish. Go ahead and laugh. I did ... but not so that he could hear me.
"Are you watching?" he asked, while he threw the metal-winged rubber fly far out into the lake and slowly reeled it back in again.
"I'm watching," I answered, with a seemingly innocent smile.
After a half-hour or so: "Well, they're not biting on this. I'll try a different bait. Come close and let me show you how it's done." I watched on for the next couple of hours while he went through the same process several times: Cast, reel, cast, reel, change baits, cast, reel, cast, reel.
The sun was beginning its slow descent. I walked a few feet behind him so that he might not notice, looking intently around in the low grass. "What are you doing?"
"Just looking around." I suppose that was a good enough explanation for him. He went on about his casting and reeling.
I got a couple of feet of spare twine from the tackle box and quickly secured a hook to it and baited it with the gold and green treasure I'd found in the grass. I wrapped the other end several times around my index finger. And then, I leaned over the edge of the water and tapped my wiggling bait on the glistening surface, as though my newfound martyr friend had fallen from the overhanging branch. On about the third tap, the big mouth rose up out of the water to grab his dinner in mid air.
Suddenly, I had my young husband's attention. "How did you do that?"
I couldn't help myself: "Well, come close and let me show you how it's done." In a few seconds, I caught another in the same fashion.
"Okay, the sun's going down and it's time to go now. I guess everybody has their good days for fishing and today just wasn't mine."
I wonder why it is that he never took me out to fish again. In fact, I recall a camping trip that much of my family went on together a few years later. A few of the men decided to take a boat out and I really wanted to go out there to fish with them. My husband insisted, however, that I remain with the rest of the women in the camp. I really don't think it had much to do with the fact that I was female. Not one of them caught anything that day. I tried my hardest not to say anything. I really, really did.
I haven't had many opportunities to fish in the last several years. But I haven't forgotten the things I learned on the bank of that pond. Trees still get in the way. Sometimes I still make too big of a splash. And sometimes my direction is still a little off course. But every once in a while, a rainbow forms on the perfectly cast twine. And every once in a while, I find it much more simple and a whole lot more productive to simply tap on the waters and leave the effort for perfection to someone else.
Treava, Another incredible piece of 'written artwork'. You certainly paint a picture with your words and make your readers part of your landscapes! I am a 'city girl' but I can still relate to all that you've written about casting our cares on our Lord. I am so honored to be a 'fishing companion' with you! Well done, Treava - AGAIN! Love you. Peggy
Hallelujah! Oh what a magnificant creation. Praise God for the gift He has bestowed upon you to use for His glory. So beautiful, so elequent and very, very powerful message. Thank you for the blessing. God bless. You fellow servant in Christ, Christian