Now that we are pretty much settled in to the new house, the time has come for me to break out my tackle and fishing rods. When I was a little guy, I started out with famous Zebco equipment, similar to thousands of young men in the country back in the early sixties. Dad wasn’t much of a fisherman but I remember one time when we went to northern Wisconsin and rented a place for several days with the family. It was the first time that I had ever heard loons on the water and frankly, I kind of remember the lake being named Loon Lake – but I can’t be sure.
Anyway, Dad wasn’t a very mechanical kind of guy and although we were able to use a rowboat, we didn’t have a motor or anything to make it easier for us. My brother, Doug, was too little to go out on the water so he stayed with Mom while Dad and I went fishing. Dad wanted to teach me to troll, so he rowed the boat while I put my line in the water. Of course, I didn’t catch anything – I’m sure the noise of the oars scared away all the fish. But it didn’t matter – I loved having the time with Dad. At dusk, we returned to the dock and Dad held the boat against the dock as I climbed out and ran up to the house. Dad tied up the front of the boat but apparently didn’t know that both end of the boat needed to be secure before he got out.
Within seconds, I heard Dad calling for Mom and we all ran out to the dock, watching Dad with one foot in the boat and one of the dock – as the boat moved back out onto the lake. Yep – he finally fell in – wallet and all. Mom laughed but Dad didn’t think it was so funny – I never forgot that evening with Dad. And throughout the years, I loved to fish at Uncle Wayne and Aunt Fran’s home and as teenagers, my best friend Bob and I would go the the southwestern suburbs of Chicago and fish in the forest preserves. We never caught many fish… at least in Illinois. I had better luck in Wisconsin, eventually catching northerns and even a muskie that is displayed in the lower level in our new home.
A number of years ago, I decided to try my hand at fly fishing. I actually tied my own flies and for a short season, actually got into the hobby. It seemed like quite a bit of work for a limited return on my invested time, though, and eventually I put all the gear away and I haven’t put a line of any kind in the water since – until several nights ago.
I had all my reels outfitted with new line and I even had all my flyfishing equipment oiled and reworked – ready for action. I went into the backyard and starting casting into the lake behind our home. It felt a little weird, after more than 20 years without fishing but it quickly came back to me. No fish – but memories came flooding back and now I have visited several stores to update lures and learn about the modern equipment now available. I have high hopes for the future.
Jesus called a number of fishermen to be His disciples. And He encouraged them to follow Him and leave the lives that they had been leading. In fact, Jesus enticed them to be “fishers of men.” It is interesting to note that Jesus usually met people where they were – comfortable in their own surroundings. He had a way to put them at ease and build relationships with them. And as you read the New Testament you will notice that a number of famous stories took place with fish. The restoration of Peter, the feeding of the multitudes and fishing in general were all events that happened with Jesus and His disciples.
The verse for this evening highlights the call of the first disciples by Jesus. We are told, in Mark 1:16-17, “As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.”
Mark, in his gospel, doesn’t usually go into much detail – he just gives his readers the basics. But the information we received is enough to give us the big picture. My encouragement this evening is that Jesus will meet you where you are and identify with you in some way that is familiar to you. My prayer is that you will stop what you are doing, just like the disciples, and choose to follow Him. Because His plan is better for you than your plan – I guarantee it. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…