Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Art of Fishing

                The other morning, as we were coming home from church, we got into a discussion of testimonies. As we talked, my daughter in law stated that she didn’t really have a good one, not like mine or my husbands. My husband and I told her that it wasn’t about how grand or how great our testimonies were that mattered, what mattered was that we have one. And that no matter what God can use even the simplest testimony to minister to others.
                I have heard many Christians over the years say the same thing. They do not have these grand testimonies, God did not free them from drug abuse, or save them from the pit of darkness. But they just believed and there was nothing really fantastic about it. This made me think of fishing. Jesus tells the disciples that they will be “fishers of men”. We too, as Disciples of Christ have been called to be “fishers of men”.
  My dad was a great fisherman. In fact, it is one of the many delights that I too have enjoyed since being a young child. My dad and I would get up early in the morning, before the sun came up, load up our gear and sit out on the lakes and rivers of Iowa, reeling in and reveling in the glories of the catch. We didn’t care what we caught, or how we caught them, we only cared that we got them into the boat. This is true also of our Christian walks. It doesn’t matter how you were caught, it only matters that you got into the boat.
                “And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers; Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him.” Matthew 4:18-20
                In the New Testament there are three different ways that men caught fish. The first one was a casting-net. The second was the drag-net or seine. The third was caught by a fishing hook. Each way was different. The way you use a casting-net is not the same way you would use the drag net. Casting-nets and drag-nets were most commonly used from a boat, while fishing with a pole and hook is usually done off the bank.
                The point is not how the fish are caught. Every fisherman only cares that he catches fish, not what type of tool he used to catch them. The same came be applied to our testimonies. We are all fish, swimming around in the big lake of life and some of us get caught in the casting-net. We are hauled in and brought into the boat of Jesus Christ through some great event. Others of us had to be dragged by net into the boat, but we did get into the boat. (I was dragged!) Some of us were swimming around, saw a worm dangling down into our pool and took the bait. It doesn’t matter how we were caught, it only matters that we were caught.
                We get so caught up in the various testimonies of Christians and we think that ours is not that grand, so therefore, it must not be real. But that is not the case. Jesus did not tell the disciples that they were to be fishers of men and only catch the difficult ones. He said to cast their nets on the right side and haul in what was in the net. Being a fisher of men for Christ means that we cast the net of the gospel into the lake of life and wait for Him to fill up the net, and then we are to carry the fish into the boat.

                There are a few accounts of the disciples being out all night and not catching a thing. They toiled and tried everything they could to catch fish, but to no avail; until Jesus comes and tells them to cast their nets on the other side. When this happened, the haul of the catch was so great that they could not even get it into the boat! “And He said to them, ‘Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.” (John 21:6) It doesn’t matter how you were caught, it only matters that you were caught. And only Jesus can fill up the nets!
Jesus is not going to throw you back because you were not caught the same way as the other fish in His boat. He is glad and rejoicing that you were caught! Our testimonies are different; we all have come to Jesus differently, because there is always more than one way to catch a fish. You are a fish; you have been caught and are now in the boat. Be thankful, rejoice and tell others how you got into the boat.
                God can use anything, anyone, at anytime to bring His glorious gospel to the world. He used ordinary men to do extraordinary things. Your testimony is unique to you, but to someone else it may be the hook they need to get into the boat with Jesus. We do not always understand why the Lord works the way He works. We do not always understand why we came by hook and others came by net. But it is not for us to understand what works, it is only for us to cast those nets and catch the fish He puts in them.

                Be thankful you have a testimony, and do not look at the other fish in the boat with you. Be thankful that you were caught, and stop focusing on how you got there. A good fisherman doesn’t care how he catches fish, he only cares that he caught them. I pray we all come to the realization that our testimonies are unique to us and that even the simplest testimony can be the greatest casting net in the lake of life. In Jesus name, Amen and Amen.