“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15, NIV
Have you ever taught a child to cast a fishing pole? It was such a blessing to help my seven-year-old daughter learn how to cast a line into a small pond yesterday. As I was helping her, I realized that a good cast feels as good as it looks. It’s fairly easy to explain how far to bend the pole back and how hard to flick it. The hardest part is how to teach them when to hit the trigger on the reel so that the hooked worm makes it from the shore to the water. I have found that the best way to teach a child how to fish is to demonstrate a cast once or twice, move far away, and then just watch them learn. What a joy it was to watch my daughter laugh as she learned to cast. My job was simply to enjoy the moment and encourage her to keep trying. Of course a good parent also remains just close enough to ensure that nobody gets hooked, and to remove the fish from the line if the worm ever makes it into the water. It’s amazing to watch how quickly a child learns. There is an unexplainable joy for both the child and the teacher when they finally get the perfect cast and when they catch their first fish.
Have you ever wondered why Jesus chose a group of fisherman to become His first disciples? Peter, Andrew, James, and John were all commercial fisherman and they knew how to cast nets. Jesus recognized their passion for fishing and called them to “Come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19, NIV) What was it about Jesus that caused these young men to temporarily leave the shore and follow Him into the cities and onto the water? How did Jesus teach them to fish for men for the first time? Did He demonstrate how to cast and then step back and watch them learn with a smile in His heart?
Although I am a city slicker I have been privileged to catch a few big fish (no I don’t have pictures). I have also watched men and women change their hearts and make decisions to follow Jesus. There is an unexplainable joy in both of these experiences. The amazing part about learning how to fish for men is that we don’t have to worry about getting the perfect cast. Jesus stood on the shore and called to His disciples to “throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some (fish). When they did they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.” (John 21:6, NIV) Fishing for men is all about Jesus and not about us. Our job is to just hang out with our Master and to listen for His command to cast and collect. Are our lines and nets standing ready for Jesus’ command to cast them?