He sat quietly on the step of the little beige house on the end of the quiet cul-de-sac. He was a quiet little boy always playing alone in the small fenced yard. Of course he did not have much opportunity to break the peace. He was the only child of a single mom in a neighborhood of retired people who had raised their children and watched them leave the neighborhood one by one.
Now on this most perfect of summer days he sat here on his porch, a sad little bend to his mouth, slowly casting with a toy fishing rod. A lone plastic toy fish lay in the grass. Each cast was accompanied by a small sigh as a small hand slowly reeled in the toy hook.
Across the street on another step sat Mr. Cooper with a thoughtful look on his face and oddly enough a sad bend to mouth as he watched his young neighbor make each dejected cast. Mr. Cooper was recently retired and found it hard to adjust to a life that was no longer scheduled to the minute. While he watched little Ben across the street he wondered why he felt strangely empty inside.
Mr. Cooper just could not get a handle on why he had that sad, empty feeling nagging at his heart. As he sat and wondered he felt a growing need to talk to Ben, and without realizing it, found himself standing at the fence watching Ben striving to catch his toy fish.
“Hey Ben, how are you doing?”
“Not bad, Mr. Cooper, how are you? Is there something I can do for you?” the little boy replied.
“No, I was just wondering what you were doing?”
“Oh, I was just pretending I was out on the lake with my dad,” Ben replied.
“You and your dad fish a lot?” Mr. Cooper asked.
“Yeah,” said Ben.
As Mr. Cooper walked back to his place his sadness was deepening as he considered the depth of loss Ben must feel since losing his father. As he neared his home an idea began to form. Entering the garage he dug out the fishing gear that he had not had time for in years and made a quick phone call to Ben’s mom. His next stop was to ask Ben to go fishing, explaining that he had already got the OK from his mom.
At the lake the two hit it off as they sat quietly casting and waiting for the big one to strike a line. As they talked and visited, getting to know each other better, Ben suddenly asked, “Mr. Cooper why are you always so sad?” Mr. Cooper replied, “My friends call me Coop and I would like you to as well, and secondly, I am not sure, I just feel like something is missing. I have accomplished everything I have set out to do and I have been successful financially but something is not quite right.”
With a thoughtful look Ben said, “I noticed when we go out on Sunday you stay home. Don’t you go to church?” Somewhat surprised at the apparent change of subject Coop said, “Well, no, we don’t, used to but just kind of fell out of the habit I guess. Why do you ask that Ben?” The boy continued, “I am sad that my dad is gone but I always feel better when we go to worship. We always used to go together and I always enjoyed my dad’s messages and teaching. He always said that we were all missing something without God in our lives and that true fulfillment only comes by faith in Him and the care that He shows to us.”
With that, the conversation just naturally settled back into its former “getting to know you,” friendship building. The two friends headed home as the sun began to set. After letting Ben off at his front door, Coop sat thinking. It had been a long time since he had given faith any kind of consideration. He couldn’t really place a time, place or reason why he had stopped pursuing a relationship with God. He wasn’t bitter, hurt or betrayed, he had just faded away from the church. As he evaluated his life, success and money he began to consider that perhaps his empty feeling had something to do with the answers to Ben’s innocent question. And in the realms of heaven, the greatest fisherman of all began to wind in His line.
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