When Fishermen Don’t Fish
In his book In the Eye of the Storm, Max Lucado tells about something that happened to him while he was in high school. Every year, he and his family used to go fishing during spring break. But one year, his brother and his mom couldn’t go, so his dad let him invite a friend.
They looked forward to this vacation with great anticipation. They pictured the sun shining down on them as they sat in the boat in the middle of the lake. The yank of the rod and the spin of the reel as they wrestled the bass into the boat. The smell of fish frying in a skillet over an open fire. They could hardly wait. Finally spring break arrived, they loaded the camper and set out for the lake.
They arrived at night, set up the camper and went to bed anxious to get up the next morning and go fishing. But that night, a northeaster blew through. The wind was so strong they could barely open the door of the camper the next morning. The sky was gray. The lake was choppy. There was no way they could fish in that weather.
"No problem," they said. They could spend the day in the camper. They had brought Monopoly and Reader’s Digest. They knew a few jokes. It wasn’t what they came to do, but they would make the best of it and fish the next day. So they passed the day indoors. The hours passed slowly but they did pass. Night finally came and they crawled into their sleeping bags dreaming of fishing.
The next morning it wasn’t the wind that made the door hard to open, it was the ice! They tried to be cheerful. "No problem," they said. "We can play Monopoly...again. We can reread the stories in Reader’s Digest. And surely we know another joke or two." But they weren’t nearly as cheerful about it all.
And as the day went on, they began to get more and more irritable and edgy. It was a long day and a long night. The next morning, when they awoke to the sound of sleet hitting the roof, they didn’t even pretend to be cheerful. They were flat-out grumpy. They sat in misery the whole day, their fishing equipment still unpacked.
The next day was even colder and they finally headed home. But Max says that he learned an important lesson that week. Not about fishing, but about people. He writes, "When those who are called to fish don’t fish, they fight. When energy intended to be used outside is used inside, the result is explosive. Instead of casting nets, we cast stones...Instead of being fishers of the lost, we become critics of the saved."
This morning I met with our shepherds and talked about this very thing. I consider it a great honor that our Shepherds expect me to be here for the next 20 years or so; Dan has even said that he expects me to be his last preacher. And my family is happier serving at New Hope than we have been in a long time, but I often wonder if there is going to be a New Hope to serve at 20 years from now.
So today I am here in fishing attire. I have my waders on, lucky ball cap and my fishing pole and tackle box. I look like I am ready to fish, but am I?