Fishermen, like most other outdoor enthusiast, have a unique relationship with God, family and each other, or do they….
Have you ever noticed how often you see fishermen pray for a good day of fishing? Prayer is typical at organized events, just like the playing of the National Anthem; but then I started to notice something else – fellowship beyond prayer.
I myself am a Christian. I pray, read the bible, attend church and dwell on spiritual questions more than earthly ones. Call it naiveté or just a lack of attention but up until this Instagram post of Timmy Horton reading his bible, I had no concept of how deep faith ran with fishermen.
This simple epiphany has led to a more profound recognition of the unique relationship that fishermen have with God, family and each other. Actually, it’s not unique, we all have it regardless if we are fishermen or not.
Traditionally when I would read Matthew 4:19, I would see a play on words. Until this weekend, out kayak fishing by myself, when this verse kept creeping in until it clicked: “Fishers of men” is just like a fisherman.
Rod and Reel
The rod and reel are core equipment for a fisherman and they should be able to hold up to the constant wear and tear they are exposed to. That is why we look for quality in both of them. The reel should be smooth, rightly handed, drag adjusted and able to hold enough line. The rod should be strong but flexible and feel like an extension of the fisherman.
The rod and reel represents your knowledge of the bible and your ability to communicate it effectively to all walks of life – it should be strong and flexible.
Without a good quality fishing line, you can’t effectively fish successfully. What good is a hookup when the line breaks? How annoying is looped line that gets tangled on your treble hooks or the tip of the rod? You need good dependable line that is both durable and strong which also doesn’t spook the fish interested in your lure.
The fishing line represents your ability to reach people during fellowship or when leading someone to Christ. You may need to reach way out there sometimes. This attribute can’t be weak but it can’t be offensive such that it takes away from the true message.
Lures – millions of choices in colors, sizes, styles, designs, name-brands, soft plastics, spinnerbaits, crankbaits and live baits. The selection is endless. If you fish the same water often, you probably have some key “go-to” lures that you know are successful. With kayak bass fishing, you have to be very selective in the lures for the location and the season since kayak space is limited. These lures are usually moved to smaller tackle boxes, typically Plano small compartment boxes. Regardless, these are easily accessible and quick to change over to – they’re versatile.
The lure represents the message. The message is typically tailored to the conditions of the conversation. The message originates from the Lord and invokes conviction in the listener much like a fish committed to the lure. Once the spirit is convicted, you need to hold on – metaphorically. Just like that lunker, a lost person will internalize the conviction and try to shake it off. Rationalizing, excuses, backpedaling, etc. I know I did the exact same thing when the Lord convicted me and still sometimes feel that way. It is emotionally difficult to face your convictions. To admit that you were lost, are a sinner and want to be saved. Conviction is real so my advice is to be empathetic and nurturing with the messages placed on your heart.
The tackle box holds all of your reserves. It houses lures, line, extra reels, weights, bobbers, hooks plus a whole plethora of accessories. The tackle box is the fisherman’s ‘vault’ which contributes to the success of the fishing trip. Quick access to everything that would be needed for changing conditions – versatile like I mentioned before.
You are the tackle box. You are the storehouse of everything that is needed to be able to adjust, interpret, and respond to those ever changing conditions that provide opportunity to spread the message of joy, hope and salvation. Always evaluate your tackle box to ensure it is spacious enough to hold what is needed and is always full.
Fruit of the Vine
When a fisherman lands a fish – great or small, ideal or less than – there is an overwhelming feeling of gratitude and accomplishment. The endorphins that are released create such an euphoria that much of the event is lost. I can tell you that Friday, I caught a fish, just one fish, on a crankbait in relatively shallow water but I cannot tell you the time of day, the water temperature, the specific brand or color pattern of the lure or how many other fishermen were around. I caught a fish, and I was ecstatic. On this same fishing trip, I saw 2 bald eagles flying overhead and I saw a turkey fly across the creek – it was God’s day.
Bringing someone to God is much the same way. Most of the time, the conversation happens off the cuff or is segued into and in such an unplanned environment that you fail to recall the details of the event. It’s a forest for the trees scenario but the feeling of God’s love is no less overwhelming. Always remember, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” -Matthew 18:20.
I can’t remember my own call to salvation, just that I know I am saved and I have been baptized. It seems so ungrateful to not have a detailed recollection of my baptism but I just don’t. I do however know without a doubt that I am saved. As a Christian, we can lead the lost to the word of God but we cannot force them to accept or believe, all we can do is tell our story of Gods great love and how it has impacted our lives in hopes that it resonates with someone who is lost and needs to hear it.
One of the greatest feelings of acceptance is that of community. People that you barely know or people that you know intimately, sharing a common passion generates brotherhood and sisterhood. Gathering together to accomplish a purpose which is both individual and communal is deeply gratifying.
The exact same thing can be said of sharing in the love of God. Local drives, tournaments, charity events, revivals and mission trips instill a sense of community AND individuality. Fishermen are a community but they are also individuals. They have God in their heart and lives. You can see it when they are with family and you can hear it when they speak. Their relationships are not unique, they are just like ours – full of Christian values, faith and love.