Deep Sea Fishing
I Can still remember it well. It was my fifteenth birthday; some of my friends had got exemption from school to start in what was considered good jobs. My father had tried to get me off school a couple of months early, but fishing was not considered an occupation that qualified for exemption. Like David with his sling I swung my school bag a few times around my head and let go. I was free, no more school.
Within the hour I was on a bus headed for Ulapool in the west coast of Scotland to begin my career as a deep-sea fisherman. At that time the mode of fishing was drift nets, fishing for herring. The nets would be ‘shot’ in a straight line in the direction the wind was blowing. They would be suspended with buoys about 15 feet below the surface weighted down with a heavy rope in all effects suspended like a massive sheet and stretching around 1 mile.
They had to be pulled in by hand, real back breaking stuff, two pulls then shake, as the herring were shaken from the net. Ten men sweating like hogs standing shoulder to shoulder as they pulled the nets back.
Then there were line boats that fished with lines with hooks attached, again stretching long distances into the depth of the sea. Each hook primed with bait to attract big fish.
Pair trawlers came along each one pulling one side of a cone shaped net. They did not wait for the fish to swim into the nets; the trawlers pulled their nets through the shoals of fish sweeping huge quantities into the trawl.
Then came the purse net, nothing escaped their path. The net was ‘shot’ in a circle like a submarine net, everything in the circle was caught as a heavy wire was pulled in closing the bottom of the net like a purse, all that was left was to scoop the herring aboard.
Jesus told his disciples we should be fishers of men; here are a few comparisons between fishing and fishing for men.
Drift nets remind me on gospel meetings. They just lie there waiting for fish to swim in and be caught. Like the fishermen shooting their nets the gospel meeting opens its doors at the same time each week inviting sinners to come in.
Line fishing is more targeted and bait is used to attract the fish. This is niche marketing, directed at a specific audience. I see this as personal evangelism keeping your line in order and patiently waiting for the target to bite.
Trawling is more like gospel crusades, quick hitting, scoop and run type events grabbing a few souls as the net passes by.
Purse fishing is the well-organised national events with many churches working together. Good preparation and follow up, not only circling the shoal, but also pulling the bottom line tight so that there is minimal loss.
Here in Scotland the Government now has a scheme to decommission boats. Good new boats are being broken up for scrap to reduce the catching power of the fleet as scientists call for a ban on over fishing.
Funnily enough there is no over fishing in the kingdom of God, the call still goes out, “'Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.” (Luke 14 v 23) At the present time we still have the liberty to fish in most ways we choose although there are beginning to be exceptions. Another net is steadily infringing upon Christian values as political correctness and all embracing policies become law.
· Finally good fishermen don’t keep fishing in the same place if there are no fish being caught, they move to new fishing grounds.
· Before they shoot the nets they repair the holes so that caught fish don’t escape through the holes.
· They use fresh bait.
Whichever mode we are involved in let us ‘fish on’ and be relevant to this generation, preaching an ancient unchangeable message, yet meeting the needs of a modern Godless society.