Nine- year-old Randy smiled and swirled the creek water into a miniature eddy. Uncle Jim had just launched into one of his numerous fishing stories, but the boy didn’t really mind. Uncle Jim’s stories always had a new and exciting twist.
“Uncle Jim,” Can I tell you a story too?”
“Sure sonny, go ahead.”
“Well, we read a really good fish story in family devotions yesterday. Jesus sent his friend Peter down to the sea and told him to catch a fish. Jesus said the fish would have a piece of gold in its mouth. Peter paid some taxes with the money. Don’t you think that’s a pretty good story?”
The old man had stiffened at the words family devotions, but regaining his composure he spoke, “Wish I had a friend like that. I could go fishin’ and pay my taxes.”
Randy suddenly spoke with childish inquisitiveness, “You mean Jesus isn’t your friend?”
“Sonny! Watch it! You’ve got a bite!”
After the sparkling trout was added to the string, the two trekked back toward the house. “Uncle Jim, do you have a Bible.”
“Course. It was my dear mother’s.”
“Can I see it?”
At the back door Uncle Jim affectionately unhooked a Gone Fishin’ sign from a rusty nail. It was his way of telling Randy he was already at the creek.
After a meal of fried fish, Randy spoke again. “Uncle Jim, can I see your Bible?”
A few moments later Uncle Jim placed a worn Book before the boy. Randy’s finger ran over a page. “Here it is. Another fish story we read in family devotions.”
Uncle Jim cleared his throat, “Now aren’t you supposed to be heading back for these family devotions pretty soon. It’s almost 7:30.”
“Really? Guess I’d better go. Thanks Uncle Jim. See you next Friday!” The boy was gone leaving the old man and the open Book on the table.
The next Friday, Randy stood in view of Uncle Jim’s back door. Sure enough, there was the signal sign, but something different had captured his attention. Randy trotted up to the house for a closer examination. Sure enough, in the bottom corner was something written in red paint. He made out Mark 1:17. Why would Uncle Jim write a verse on their signal sign? After all, he hadn’t seemed very interested in the Bible the other day. Randy peered through the window pane. He didn’t see Uncle Jim, but the Book was still open on the table. His childish curiosity was getting the better of him. He knew Uncle Jim wouldn’t mind him walking in to look up that verse instead of going home for his own Bible. He swung open the door and stepped over to the table. To his surprise he didn’t have to turn to the verse he was looking for. Instead the verse leaped off the page as his eyes focused on red ink. “Come ye after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Beside the verse, written in a shaky hand were the words, “Okay God. I’ll follow You.”
“Randy!” Randy spun around to find himself face to face with Uncle Jim. His startled eyes flew over the altered appearance of the old man.
“You’re all dressed up. Are you going somewhere?” Uncle Jim chuckled softly, “Well, Randy, I just got back. I had somthin’ to do this mornin’.”
“What? Uncle Jim.”
“Well, Randy, to put it mighty simple, I’ve got Jesus for my friend now too.” Uncle Jim laid his finger tenderly under the red letters, “Jesus wanted me to follow Him and go visit some of the old friends I’ve neglected for a long time. I’m gettin’ kinda old, but maybe not so old the good Lord can’t teach me a different kinda fishin’.”
Randy smiled. He knew that something wonderful had happened, and his youthful soul reveled in the joy he read on the face of his old friend.
“Just let me get my fishin’ outfit on and we’ll head down to the creek.” Uncle Jim laughed, “Sonny, why didn’t you tell me sooner about all the good fishin’ stories in this Book?”
A few minutes later, Uncle Jim and Randy were ready to start down the trail. As the door slammed behind them, the signal board rocked precariously. It was then as if an unseen Hand reached out to steady the little sign with Gone Fishin’ Mark 1:17 scrawled across it.
Mark 1:17 KJV
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