Lessons from Fishing
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”
As it happens, one of my real loves and passions in life is fishing, and so while I believe that this scripture has some general—“no angling experience required”—lessons to teach about following Jesus, I also just find it delightful that it is fishing in particular that is the focus here.
People who fish often make the connection between fishing and the spiritual life, perhaps because both involve seeking a certain communication and rapport between two unseen worlds.
For me, it was my grandpa, a Lutheran minister and a fly fisherman, who inspired me in perhaps both of these directions (fishing and, well, more fishing, as Jesus puts it).
A typical fishing trip with him would always begin long before the trip itself, as we’d spend hours and days gathering and preparing the proper equipment and information—what to fish with and where to fish.
Finally, after an early summer supper, we’d set out in his little aluminum rowboat. He’d call out, “We’re off like a herd of turtles!” and we’d laugh and smile. Once the fishing began, however, we’d become much more quiet and serious about the task at hand.
One thing about fishing is that there’s always a lesson to be learned. One night I might learn not to open my tackle box too loudly. Another, not to let the tip of the rod ding against the side of the boat. And every night there’s occasion to marvel at God’s creation—a world of snapping turtles, lightning, or a small Wisconsin lake suddenly whipped into a white-capped frenzy.
And in the end, of course, if you’re ever to catch a fish, you have to learn what it means to be ready—ready to respond to the faintest of tugs from below; ready, at any moment, to feel again that connection to a world that you know and love but cannot see…the pull of a fish on a line, the call of Jesus in the heart…and immediately you’re linked to a larger, more sacred, more beautiful world.
Prayer: O God, Creator of all that we see and all that we don’t see—that which is above and that which is below the surface of life—help us to see and feel and trust much, much more of the latter…Amen.