As most of you know, I liked fishing when I was younger and then gave it up for more than 30 years. You know, the family was growing and I was busy building our company. And there was always a reason I couldn’t go with my friends. It seems they were always tied up with something else, or I was… In fact, I haven’t gone on a fishing trip, other than for several hours at the Greenbrier every once in a while, since about 1985 or so – about three years after we moved to Indiana from our home in suburban Chicago.
On that last trip, my friend Jack and I went out to Aspen and fished two days for trout in several area rivers, stayed up late, dined at fine restaurants, fished all day non-stop and hiked trails and riverbeds without getting tired. I caught several of my first trout ever in Aspen and haven’t been back since. Then, Jack and I lost touch until the last year or two, when we re-connected. It turns out he retired and took a part-time job at a local store I frequently visit. And while I gave up fishing and all the related activities, Jack has continued to stay busy hunting and fishing all over the world. He is a true outdoorsman – a guy who really loves nature and travels regularly to fish. As we have renewed our friendship, he asked me to go on a short fishing trip with him this past week-end.
How hard could that be? After all, Jack and I go way back and I went on my last trip, 32 years ago, with him. So, I accepted… Let me say at the outset that the trip was successful – I caught several steelhead trout as well as a number of other fish. I made sure all my gear was up to snuff and even tied some flies for the experience. We headed to northeastern Ohio for the steelhead run and had plans to stay in Conneaut, OH – right on the southern edge of Lake Erie, a stone throw’s west of the Pennsylvania border.
We arrived Thursday night in the middle of a massive rain storm that fouled the water for most of Friday. We kept ourselves busy until mid-afternoon when our guide called and let us know that he had found good water to fish. We got ready, left the hotel and changed into our wading gear when we arrived at the location. I guess I had forgotten the physical exertion that it took to properly wade streams. With all our gear in place, we trudged down 145 steps and walked about 1/2 mile to enter the stream.
The saving grace here is that I did catch my first steelhead – and it was awesome. But boy, at the end of four hours I was ready for a nap – I was sore all over and just couldn’t fish any longer. I was grateful when dusk came and we headed back to the cars… that is, until I remembered that we now had 145 steps to go up! And another half mile back to the car… I don’t know what made me think this would all be so easy.
I couldn’t wait to get to bed and other than the leg cramps I experienced during the night, I slept fitfully. The next morning we were at it again, only in Pennsylvania this time… We fished on some private property and it was beautiful country. Not many fish, but grand scenery. That’s part of the reason that I went – it is so peaceful and serene – until you are so tired you can hardly move…
My back was sore, my legs were sore, my side was sore from casting for hours, I was cold, my gloves were wet and I was worried about falling – like two other members of our small group. Somehow, this wasn’t how I remembered my former trips – more than three decades ago. It never seemed this difficult and complicated. All that gear – I don’t remember it being that heavy. And I don’t remember being that susceptible to cold or cool weather. And my back isn’t as strong as it used to be. And the leg cramps came back on the drive home late last night – 7 hours long after a day of fishing.
In short, the dreams I had were different than the reality. I guess I hadn’t taken into account the age difference and how I am less fit than I was so many years ago. I just don’t want to admit that I don’t have as much stamina or perseverance as I did back then. But my dreams about this trip were awesome! And chances are, I will do it again, with slightly more realistic expectations.
The verse for this evening comes from the prophet Joel who wrote words that were repeated in the book of Acts at the founding of the Acts 2 church. Joel tells us, in Joel 2:28, “…I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” What great words these are. They give hope to all God’s people and that includes us.
My encouragement tonight is that God wants all his people to still dream – no matter how old they are. As for me, I will continue to dream about the future – even if I have to realign some of my expectations. My prayer is that God will fill your heart and mind with dreams and visions of your own – things that are so grand that they are difficult to believe, but still attainable. Some other time, I will have to tell you about the one that got away! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…