My friend, James, and I went fishing while Janet and I were staying at the Greenbrier earlier this week. I always enjoy my time with James and during this trip, we fished on a private stream about 40 minutes away from where Janet and I were staying. I have been there several times before and it is one of those places where you tend to forget your troubles and the issues of the world tend to dissolve into the background.
It is one of the very few places that I focus on the moment and enjoy God’s handiwork while I try my hand at catching the most beautiful trout I have ever seen. Last Tuesday, I thought we were going to get rained out but when I woke up, the sky was overcast without any rain in sight. James and I were ready to head out about 9:30 am and got to the stream a little after 10:00. It was perfect trout weather – 45 degrees and overcast. The water was so clear that we could see hundreds of trout in different pools, just waiting to be caught.
Throughout the morning, we caught more than 40 fish, including one rainbow trout that was almost as long as my arm (a personal record) and several brown trout, the first ones I have ever caught. I was paying attention to every nuance of the experience. I even noticed the difference in the way that a rainbow trout acts in relation to how brown trout swim in the pools. I was mesmerized by the technical aspects of fishing for these beautiful fish.
James, who was acting as my guide as well as my friend, seemed to know exactly what flies to use and made constant changes based on the water conditions, currents, wind, temperature and a host of other variables too numerous to mention. Every pool we fished required some change to the way we were stalking our prey. And whenever we caught a fish, we always released it. These creatures are just too beautiful to keep. They deserve to be free.
Before we knew it, it was almost 1:30 pm and time to get back to the resort. As soon as we made the decision to pack up, a gentle rain started to fall. A perfect end to a perfect morning on the stream. By way of this experience, I have a confession to make. It hardly makes any difference if I fish anywhere else. I love the people and the stream that I have found in West Virginia.
I am always amazed about the change that comes over me on this particular stream. James told me that he refers to it as “changing the channel.” I was clearly confused by his comment so he went on the explain that whenever he is dealing with an issue and can’t resolve it, he heads to the stream and finds himself quickly absorbed in other thoughts. As he puts it, “changing the channel” helps him solve his problems later and in the meantime, he is able to enjoy himself without dwelling on something that he isn’t able to deal with at the moment. He finds true peace in his life by practicing this.
As I reflected on my own times on the stream, I was struck by the serenity and peace that I felt as well. I guess that James has taught me to “change the channel” without being consciously aware of what I was doing. Being in the middle of God’s handiwork and being totally immersed in the moment gave me a chance to reflect on the biblical aspects of what I was experiencing.
Our verse tonight reflects what Jesus has to say about peace. Jesus wants us to be at peace – to dwell in His divine peace. The apostle John tells us the words of Jesus, in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
My encouragement this evening is that Jesus wants us to change the channel and focus on Him. My prayer is that this Christmas season, when things get a little out of control and we forget the real reason for the season, we will turn everything over to God and let Him deal with our issues in His perfect timing. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…