"Well, I think this just about does it," Dad said as Sarah put the third tackle box in an ever-growing line of supplies to be packed into the Suburban. He rubbed his hands together and smiled. "Four whole days to do nothing but fish! Excited?"
Sarah nodded, but she didn't feel excited. She turned to go back into the house for her duffle bag.
Mom, coming out with a Coleman lantern in one hand and the first aid kit in the other, saw her face. "What's wrong, kiddo?"
"Nothing," Sarah mumbled.
"Don't tell me you've changed your mind about this weekend!" Dad said from behind her. "We've been planning it for a month."
"It's not that. It's last night."
Mom nodded, but Dad looked confused.
"What happened last night?"
"Gwen didn't come again..."
Sarah nodded. "I thought for sure she would! We had pizza and a movie and just a short devotional! She sounded interested, but then, when I called her just before time to go, she said she didn't want to." Sarah was close to tears. "I've been trying to get her to church for a whole year! I think maybe I'll quit asking her."
Dad frowned. "I'm not sure that's what God wants you to do."
"Well, Dad," Sarah looked up at him, her face sad; "if we never caught anything when we went fishing eventually we'd quit using all our long weekends to do that. I mean, we'd start going to Six Flags, or the beach, or Grandma's or something else. If we never had any luck fishing it wouldn't be any fun!"
Dad nodded. "True. But I don't count on luck to fish."
Mom grinned. "Here we go..." she said quietly enough that only Sarah heard.
"I plan these trips, Sarah. I take into account the time of year, the type of fish we're going after...We have to choose the right spots and the right kind of bait, the right time of day...There's a lot more to being a good fisherman than just counting on luck."
Sarah nodded. She'd heard the short lecture before. Any time anyone mentioned 'luck' and 'fishing' in the same sentence they heard Dad's take on how little one had to do with the other.
Mom looked at the long line of supplies waiting to be loaded into the Suburban. "Where's the minnow bucket?" she asked.
"Jason's getting it." Dad answered. He looked back at Sarah.
"See? If we forget just one thing, it could ruin our trip. That's why we take the time to prepare. So we have good trips...so we catch fish. Otherwise, you're right—these trips wouldn't turn out so well."
Sarah shifted her gaze from her father to the equipment they'd spent the last half hour dragging out of the shed. Her eyes narrowed as she thought.
"We're called 'fishers of men', Sarah," her mom said. "Gwen is kind of like that big fish your dad tries to catch every year. He knows it's out there, and so he angles for it, try to coax it in. It takes time and patience."
"And preparation," Dad agreed. "What have you done to prepare to ask Gwen to church each time?"
Sarah looked up, dumbfounded. "Nothing; I've never thought about it. I know she needs Jesus, so I just ask."
Dad nodded. "That's like casting over and over into the water without thinking about the fish you're going after. People who do that don't often bring home dinner."
"What could you do to prepare?" Mom asked gently.
"I guess pray about it, for starters. I already pray for Gwen, but I've never prayed that God will give me the right words to use with her, or that He'll let me know the right time to ask."
Mom and Dad both smiled.
"That's a good start," Dad said.
"Yeah..." Sarah nodded. "Yeah...I think I'll take part of this weekend and ask God how to prepare for my next big fish—Gwen."
Jason appeared with the minnow bucket and a big bag of Doritos. "These are for the road, right, Mom? Can I open them now?" He dropped the last of the supplies on the ground. It dented against a rock.
Dad grinned. "Good thing you won't need a minnow bucket."
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