Years ago, I was something of a fisherman. I used to fish with my friend Bob when we were boys – renting a row boat and heading out on Maple Lake in the forest preserves in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. I also remember going out to fish for perch early in the mornings with my grandfather when he loved to fish in Calumet City on the edge of Lake Michigan in the mid sixties. And then there was the time I caught a muskie in northern Wisconsin and several other fishing trips, including one in Canada.
Since we moved to Carmel 31 years ago, I have also done some limited fishing in the local rivers, or below the dams that are located at the southern ends of local reservoirs. I’m not a hunter, mind you, but I do occasionally enjoy fishing. Somewhere along the line I got interested in fly fishing. To be sure, it’s much more work than regular fishing and the part that I enjoyed the most was the tying of flies. In fact, I really developed it into quite a hobby for some time. There is just something special about catching fish on materials that you created yourself.
For years now, I haven’t fished or tied flies. I guess I kind of lost interest in the whole thing. But with our new home on a large pond, I am looking forward to starting to tie a few flies again and maybe even casting a line into the water. I don’t expect big things – panfish and maybe a small bass, but the thrill of contemplating what may be is something that I am really enjoying. I even went to the local Orvis store to get my tying equipment up to date and my rods ready for spring.
I couldn’t help but be reminded of the original disciples and how most of them were fisherman. They came from different areas but many made their livelihood from what they could catch from the sea. Throughout the story of the disciples and their time with Jesus, there are many stories about fishing. You may recall the times that Jesus instructed Peter to cast out his net, or when the disciples saw Jesus cooking fish on the shore. Or how about the restoration of Peter or when Peter walked on water. All stories having to do with the sea and the former profession of many of this tight band of followers of Jesus.
But the thing that attracted them in the first place was the idea that Jesus was going after something bigger than the goals Peter and the other disciples had set. Jesus wanted to teach the apostles to fish – but for something infinitely more important. That was to assist Him in converting men and women to an eternal life with Christ as a result of their acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior. The verse for tonight is from Matt. 4:19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”
My encouragement this evening is that God still wants us to do our part and “fish” for people to convert to the good news of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. My prayer is that you will take this mandate seriously and remember that just like the sport of fishing, “fishing” for people can be a very rewarding experience as well. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…