Summary: We’ve all heard stories about the one that got away and other kinds of fish stories. God wants us to tell our fish stories, our fishing for people stories, not the exaggerated ones but the ones that show God at work in our lives.
I love fish stories. I have always thought it fun to hear folk talk about the fish they have caught or the one who got away. Most all of us have heard fish stories of some kind or another during our lifetime. Some of them are very believable and others, well let’s just say that the exaggeration is the best part of the story.
I want to share a fish story with you. And, you may think that this story, like so may other fish stories is based best in the exaggeration, but I promise you, this is a true story.
When I was a teenager, I had a friend named Mike Baker. Mike and I worked together in the first job I ever had. We worked for the National Forest Service in the Sam Houston National forest at a recreational park called Double Lake. The park is near Cold Springs. We were a part of a program the government had in the ‘70’s called Youth Conservation Corp. It was a great job and one of my favorite jobs in all my working life. We lived in barracks style housing all week and went home on weekends. During the day we worked on several projects in and around Double Lake.
At night, after work, we often would go over to Lake Livingston and go fishing. Going out there was always a lot of fun and we almost always caught a few fish. But it was particularly fun when Mike came with us. It was fun because Mike had a fish call. When I call it a fish call, I don’t mean something he stuck down in the water to attract fish. Mike would stand at the edge of the lake, hold his hands to his mouth kind of like many people hold their hands to whistle, and he would make this strange sounding noise. About the closest sound that I can think of is the horn on a diesel truck, but it wasn’t quite that either.
I know that it sounds funny and you might not think that it would work, but it did. When Mike came with us and used his fish call, we caught fish. We caught some fish most of the time, but when Mike came and used the fish call we really caught fish. The biggest fish I have ever caught was one night that Mike went with us and used his fish call. I caught a 15 pound catfish. Yes, it was small compared to many like the one taken out of Lake Texoma a few years ago, but I was proud of it. I still have a picture of it somewhere around the parsonage.
Some of you are probably sitting there thinking to yourself, boy that is just about the lamest fish story I have ever heard. Others may think I can really tell a fish story. I promise you, however, the story is true.
You can’t live in east Texas or on the Gulf coast without having heard at least a few fish stories. I would guess that all of us have heard some and most of us even have one or two stuck in the back pockets of our memory that we can tell on just about a moment’s notice. And fish stories aren’t anything new. The disciples had a whopper of a fish story to tell. It was a true story, but just as some of you are probably doubting the truth of my fish story, I would guess that many people of their day doubted the truth of what Peter and Andrew and James and John were telling them when they talked about this morning’s lesson.
Jesus comes up to the lake, and as usual, a crowd gathers. So, he gets into Peter’s boat and tells Peter to put out just a little from shore. Jesus uses the boat as a pulpit or a lectern and begins to teach the crowd. When the lesson was over he tells Peter to put out his nets on the other side of the boat from where Jesus was teaching. Peter puts up a short protest saying, “We have been out here fishing all night long and haven’t caught a blessed thing. We have come back in and cleaned up our nets and now you want us to put them back out again? Oh well, you want us to put out the nets, we’ll put out the nets.” And, Peter goes about doing what Jesus instructed him to do. He put out the nets. The Bible doesn’t tell us what Peter was thinking as he put the nets into the water. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was thinking, “Here I am, a professional fisherman. I know how to catch fish, I’ve been doing it most of my life. I have worked all night and haven’t caught anything. And now this itinerant carpenter/preacher presumes to tell me how to fish. Of all the nerve.” Now he may not have thought it, but it certainly would have been in line with Peter’s character.