In May, the fishermen return to the lake like lazy turtles emerging from hibernation. Armed with hope, anticipation, a bait box with minnows and a tackle box full of the latest dazzling artificial lures, they parade onto the water in their boats to revisit last year’s favorite haunts.
I personally don’t enjoy the sport – I have too much compassion for fish innocently yanked from their mealtimes, especially when they swallow the hook! But my husband is an avid fisherman, so I vicariously share his enthusiasm and gladly prepare whatever he catches for our dinner table.
Of course he never plans to return from a fishing trip empty-handed. However, every time he heads out in the boat it is with the realization that he may or may not pull in that illusive “big one!” I admire the fact that no matter what happens, he’ll be out there again the next day…looking for “the one that got away.” But isn’t it about more than just hauling in fish – really? Isn’t there something going on out there that has to do with inner tranquility as well as adventure?
I’m aware that something washes over my husband when he’s in his little fishing boat, something akin to “serenity.” Not that he’s listless or not working at his job, but he is at peace. He’s calm and thoughtful in the midst of expectancy.
Sometimes I think fishing parallels the Christian life. We prepare our hearts and minds to seek God’s truth just as fishermen prepare their tackle boxes. We step out in faith (throw our lines of trust into the unknown) in order to harvest and experience God’ promises. And in moments of disappointment we do not give up, but rally for the next time.
God respects and rewards our desire to pursue Him. Over time we accumulate hard evidence: testimonies exceeding my husbands fish stories! Just as there are always more fish to catch, so are His promises even more endless. It’s only a timing issue, and God’s timing is always perfect!
While “casting about” in the faith life, reaching for new understanding and harvesting the wealth of God’s grace, we also encounter “serenity.” Only when frantic about our own performance or the perceived expectations of others do we become frazzled.
In the fishing world, this is obvious during bass tournaments when the name of the game becomes competition. No time to enjoy – just WIN! The prize, and the recognition accompanying it, is the paramount goal.
Isn’t that the way so many of us are tempted to live our everyday lives? Racing to be “the best” while runaway stress hormones keep us afloat? I prefer to learn from the causal, recreational fisherman. It seems he is purposeful and focused, but not worried. That’s the way I want to live.
A giant fish swallowed Jonah. Jesus called fishermen as disciples, loaded Peter’s boat on a day when the fish were nowhere to be seen, and asks us to be fishers of men. The great miracle to feed the multitude included multiplying fish. Jesus ate fish in the presence of his disciples after his crucifixion. These “fish stories” seem to lead us back to our own relationship with the Lord as we continually learn, seek, wait, persist, expect, and receive.
Fishermen teach us about having faith. And only through faith do we discover serenity.