Now that my daughters have grown and left the nest so to speak, I find I have a little more time for me, which is something that most parents would agree is hard to come by while raising a family. The last few months a good friend has begun to take me fishing with him, and it has reawakened my interest as I spent most of my childhood fishing with my father and grandfather. So this week I was fishing alone for my favorite species, largemouth bass, and while doing so began an interesting conversation with the Holy Spirit concerning fishing. Now that may sound funny to some, but we do talk a lot ( I mostly try to listen ) and He shared some things with me this week that I believe pick up from where we left off last week talking about doing His business.
Then Jesus said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men." Mark 1:17 NKJV
This was the first thing the Spirit brought to mind as I was fishing, and then He asked a question; "why do you think so many of the disciples were fishermen"? As I thought that one over, it occurred to me that obviously there must be qualities a good fisherman must possess which are uniquely suited for spreading the gospel. As I then thought about that, I came up with what I will call the "essential three".
A good fisherman is always prepared. When I go fishing, I always try to take absolutely everything I think I might need in order to be prepared for anything that might happen. Things like extra tackle, rain jacket, life preserver, power bars, water, you name it I probably take it. How often and how many examples I could give that I was lucky I was prepared. As my friends like to say, if it can happen, it will probably happen to me. Did I mention the first aid kit? I will leave that story for another time.
A good fisherman is always patient. I think anyone who has ever fished understands the need for patience, for on any given day your luck can change. I remember fishing one day in a lake high in the Rockies that I had hiked two days to get to on the advice of a guide who had taken people there. I began fishing mid morning and for the next six hours caught NOTHING. I was so tempted to leave, but the guide had been adamant there were fish there. So I decided to finish the day, and brother was I glad I did. About five or so the entire lake just erupted with fish trying to get dinner and I had an hour or so of fishing like I had never, ever experienced. I literally never threw a cast that did not result in a strike.
A good fisherman is persistent. You know, there are days where it seems all you do is lose fish. Just this week I had a day where I got strikes, saw fish following my lures, and even hooked several large ones. Yet I never landed a fish. Frustration is easy to come by on a day like that, and I think it is pretty easy to call it a day and decide to try again later when things like that happen. Yet I do recall someone telling me once "it's called fishing, not catching, for a reason". Persistence pays off eventually, so it's better not to get discouraged if you have a day of bad luck for there is always tomorrow.
As I was thinking of all of these qualities, the Spirit then told me to read the following verse and tell Him what I saw.
Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 2 Timothy 4:2 NKJV
What did I see? Well, Jesus said if we follow Him, He will make us fishermen. So when He says "preach the word" I see it as telling us to go fish! As far as "be ready", I would certainly call that the same as being prepared. "Convince, rebuke, exhort" certainly looks a lot like being persistent, and there is no question "longsuffering" means be patient. So as always, my question to Him was, "is it really this simple"? His answer was, as you might expect, another question; "how are people like fish"?
So this one took a little more time to figure out, but here is what I came up with. In my experience, there are basically four types of fish out there.
1. Those that reject. No matter what you throw out there, they are not interested.
2. Those that are curious. They will follow your lure, maybe even play with it, but never bite.
3. Those that nibble. They want a taste, but they won't swallow the hook.
4. Those who accept. They are not only interested, they swallow hook, line, and sinker.
After I thought of this, I realized that when teaching the Parable of the Sower, Jesus also said there were four types of "ground". As I have shared before, I do so appreciate the simplicity of the scripture. God has taken pains to write His message in such a way as to be simply shared and understood. As we "fish" by sharing the Gospel with an unbelieving world, remember the message from Paul to Timothy by being prepared, patient, and especially persistent. and never forget we are called to be fishers of men.