There is something about fishing that speaks to how we live our lives; a metaphor that illustrates aspects of how we live our lives. I am not talking about what some call fishing when they throw a line out with a bobber and then sit in their lawn chair until the bell rings or the bobber disappears. I am talking about “real” fishing. :) Fly Fishing. Spinner fishing comes closer but there is nothing like fly fishing! Traipsing through tall grass, sage, and willows to get to a good spot. Navigating tree limbs and balancing on rocks used as stepping stones to cross the river, all the while not getting your line snagged in the trees and willows around you. Getting the right angle to reach the deepest hole. Strapping on the waders to get to where the big ones are, or getting in the drift tube and floating the current til lunch time. Fly fishing. Ten and two, ten and two, ten and two. All in the wrist. All in the rhythm. All one motion connected to another. All in knowing what you are fishing for.
We are all fishing for something. Whether on a camping trip fishing for trout, on the lake fishing for bluegill, bass, and catfish, or we are sitting at home, in the office, or at school fishing for a good grade, a better job, our first job, a successful career, a promotion, or the best bargain on line or in the store. Some are fishing for a relationship, an education, a secure future. Others cast a line looking for a way out, a place to live, or someone to give them a chance. We fish for answers, plans, purpose, excitement, forgiveness, value, comfort, acceptance, something normal, or something real.
In Matthew 4:18-23 Jesus calls what would become his first disciples. He asks a small group of fishermen to “come and follow him” and that by doing so he (Jesus) would make them “fishers of men.” Why fishermen? Why call people who make a living by fishing to grow the Kingdom of Heaven? Why not someone more qualified? Someone with more letters behind their name and more experience in the field of building kingdoms. Why fishermen? Because a good fisherwoman or fisherman contains qualities which in turn make them good fishers of people.
Let me explain: A good fisherman is patient…they know a fish (or a person) cannot be rushed.
A good fisherwoman has perseverance…Never to be discouraged and always willing to try again. They know not all fish (or all people) react the same, swim the same, or hang out in the same kinds of water. Not all fish want the same thing but they do want to be fed.
A good fisherman has courage…to face difficulty, ridicule, or defeat. To work hard with little results. To realize some days it feels like the fish get the last laugh and they just aren’t biting.
A good fisherwoman has an eye for the right moment…they must understand that when storms rage, the temperature is far too hot, or the surface of the water is simply too choppy, it is not a good time to fish. When tempers flare, the conversation or circumstance is too hot, or the emotions are too charged and choppy, it is best to try another day.
A good fisherman fits the bait to the fish…they know their limitations. They understand that one cannot be all things to all fish but that it takes all those who follow Jesus to do their part of casting the love, hope, and goodness of Jesus into the sea of living.
A good fisherman keeps out of sight…showing not themselves or their fancy technique, extensive training, and proven tactics but rather, showing the qualities and characteristics of Jesus to any fish that might come their way.
We are all fishing for something and over the next few weeks, seniors all over the country, including right here in Franklin, will set or cast their nets onto life’s waters and fish for what comes next. As they do and as you live your life, I ask you to consider what Jesus said to those first disciples, “come and follow me, and I will make you fishers of people.”
Come, wherever you go, whatever you do, follow me, make me a part of your life. Wherever life might take you, whatever school you attend, or wherever you put down roots, or even when you retire, follow me, make me a priority in your life. Whatever job you get, or don’t get, wherever the next experience takes you, follow me, allow me to walk alongside you through it all.
May we all be more like the fishermen Jesus first called. May we be patient when it feels like it is taking forever or when it seems no one understands. Persevere when we want cut bait and quit or when life is unfair and plain hard. Be courageous when facing challenges, rejection, or defeat. Look for the right moment, seek Jesus’ Spirit in the present and trust he is with us. Know our limits and know that Jesus has none. May we show the world Jesus Love not our judgment or cynicism. Jesus’ compassion not our qualifying conditions. Jesus’ truth not someone else's. Jesus’ peace not our war. Jesus’ hope not our empty intentions.
May we remember our call to be fishers of people. Amen
Pastor Jenothy Irvine