Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” 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.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. [NRSV]
Licensed to Catch
To be authorized to fish on state waters and waters that lead to state waters you must have a license to fish. It is a piece of paper with slopping dot matrix ink that is barely legible that cost just a few dollars for a whole year of fun and recreation, but try to sneak out without one and you will wish you had the permit. That license helps keep lakes and rivers stocked, rangers on watch and some efforts to protect waters for future fishing. It seems to me that it sounds much more impressive to call one’s permit a license to fish, rather than a stocking fee or a wildlife protection fee or a ranger administrative fee. Now I complain every time they increase the rate, but its still one of the best values our state provides.
With a license to fish it sounds like your are a professional catcher of fish, a regular James Bond in the wilderness. Licensed, licensed to fish. And yet that little piece of paper is your letter of authorization to attempt to catch a fish.
Unless you use your bare hands or a catchers mitt, I suggest that the whole endeavor is misnamed. Catching fish is the rarity in my experience. Practicing is the art of hoping and trying to catch. I have cast my line MANY more times than I have ever caught a fish.
And when I have successfully retrieved a fish from his watery home, I generally use every method I have to capture the little creature. And in my experience, my catch is a small creature; one I probably should use my bare hands to ‘catch’ rather than a load of specialized gear, bait and practice.
To be successful at fishing might have nothing to do with catching anything, except a nap in the great outdoors.
To be successful at fishing might be in helping someone catch what you have little or no success achieving yourself.
To be successful at fishing I know that the cost to procure a fish is not measured by the total investment, rather in the most recent success story. (Boat, poles, line, lures, trailers, flotation devices, motors, umbrella, wetsuit, waders, various must-have pieces of tackle, just to get started.) The cost of a ‘catch’ is the most recent worm and and the gas to transport you to the best spot.
A Failure at Fishing
You might think you have failed a fishing if you came home with no fish, but learning WHY you came home empty handed might be the successful lesson.
Coming home with a boat load of fish actually means more work of cleaning and cooking your catch which might be the last thing you want to do after three hours of driving, unloading and loading a boat, working on a broken boat, waking a mile back to go to the bathroom because your little helper doesn’t want to go in the woods, enduring some mud and rain, going through the first aid kit from miscellaneous hook injuries and only finding the little ones that need to be returned to grow bigger.
Luxury of Catch and Release
It is such a mixed message to take a child fishing when it’s catch-and-release season. First all the hype about “catching” fish and bringing it home to eat for dinner is the stuff that beginning fisher-folk legends are founded. You finally catch one, beginner’s luck you find the biggest one of the whole fishing parting and you have to throw it back. I wanted to eat it and mount it for all posterity, not through it back!
But there is actually a great level of maturity, delayed-gratification, or at least perspective when you can use all at your disposal to hook and retrieve your catch and not have to keep it
- because that is not the only meal your family might have is at the end of your line.
- because you don’t need to show anyone your catch,
- because you have learned to enjoy to sport of fishing
- because you want to leave fish for those who need the meal they provide
- because you don’t want to clean them
- because you found your enjoyment in the journey rather than the trophy
“Catching” is not the high-water-point of fishing!
Sharing fishing with someone else is the joy of fishing.
- You need no license to share the story
- You need no experience, success nor failure, to share the fun
- You don’t have to know what your doing and you may be the most practiced professional
Sharing the adventure of catching is heart.
Jesus goes a long way to share an INVITATION to share the ADVENTURE of FISHING
Jesus never promised that we would catch a single person
Jesus invites us to go on an adventure bigger than what we could catch if we tried, practiced,
Jesus extends INVITATION rather than LICENSES
Jesus calls us to use the skill and talents we know and have and INVITES us to share them with the work of the Kingdom.
Jesus continues to call disciples
Look to the persons on either side:
- Remind them “You are a disciples”
- Remind them “You are a fisher, not a catcher”
- Remind them “You don’t have to know what you are doing, just follow Jesus”
- Remind them “Lead with what you know”
- Remind them of the tough part: “Sometimes following Jesus is leaving other things behind”
Jesus Calls Disciples who make new Disciples, who fish for more disciples…
The ADVENTURE is ours,
we never graduate,
we never retire,
we may have weary, uncertain times, but
there is always more fishing to be done. So keep it up
Let’s go fishing
- It’s too cold
- It’s too wet
- I don’t have a license
- I don’t know where to go
- I don’t have the right equipment
- I don’t know how
- I’m tired of fishing
- I don’t like fish
- I want someone to fish for me, I like the restaurant/grocery story method.
So why are we here as church, if we are not about the one thing Jesus asked disciples…
I’m up for the ADVENTURE!
I have a story to SHARE!
- I don’t know how to fish, but I know who does!
- I don’t have license, but I have forgiveness and love!
- I might have skills and equipment, God wants what we bring! God fulfills what we leave behind.
- I might get tired, God plans for rest.
- I might not like the people God sends me to, but I know God loves us all
- If I don’t follow, what will I miss and who will miss God….