My Grandpa taught me what I know about fishing. Even though he was an avid fisherman, Grandpa didn’t always have the latest and greatest equipment. That honor belonged to my Uncle Chaz. We fished with him almost every weekend. Uncle Chaz always had the best rods, reels, and lures available. He believed it was absolutely necessary to have a certain kind of rod for a certain kind of fish. He had bass rods, catfish rods, crappie, perch and bluegill rods. Grandpa, on the other hand, had 3 rods and was happy to catch anything on any one of them. His favorite was one that was originally a 7-foot graphite with a Zebco 33 reel. Unfortunately, the tip had been broken a couple of times and it was just over 5 feet long when I knew it. And the reel, for some reason, didn’t always cast very well. Many times I saw Grandpa pull the line out by hand and then whirl it over his head and toss it out. Of course, a reel that doesn’t cast well, sometimes doesn’t reel in well, either. When that happened, Grandpa would grab the line with his hands and pull it in.
The crazy thing about fishing with those two old geezers was that they would be only 10 or 20 feet away from each other in the same fishing hole and Grandpa, with his rundown equipment, would always catch 2 or 3 times as many fish as Uncle Chaz. It gave my uncle fits. Every trip he would inevitably tell Grandpa that he couldn’t expect to catch anything with that worthless equipment. And Grandpa would always tell him, “it ain’t got nothing to do with the equipment – you just gotta hold your mouth right.” I can’t tell you in this space what Uncle Chaz said to that.
But as I reflect back on my time with those two men, I have come to find a lot of parallels between the fishing they did and the fishing we are called to do in the church.
First, having the latest, greatest equipment does not guarantee success. Grandpa was successful because he relied on instinct rather than his equipment. In the same way, we need to rely on the Holy Spirit and not on technique, training or systems.
Second, the more often you fish the more fish you will catch. Grandpa was successful because he fished often. It is only reasonable that the more frequently you fish, the more fish you will catch. The same truth applies in the church. The more we share our story of faith, the greater our harvest for the Kingdom will be.
Last, you don’t always catch something. Sometimes Grandpa came home with an empty stringer. But that didn’t stop him from going again. For those who fish for the Kingdom, the same should be true. We will not always “land a big one” (or even a “small” one), but that shouldn’t stop us from trying again.
So, how long has it been since you went fishing?