Quail feathers, chicken down, wild–turkey tails and even cat hair —these and more have been the object of my husband’s desire of late and has made our daily life a bit more colorful.
It all started with a Christmas present from our new son-in-law. A rectangular wooden box full of fly-tying tools re-kindled a passion in Steve that for years had been a mere ember. That gift inspired a trip to the nearest sporting goods store in search of sundry tying materials and an illustrated guide-book on the subject.
Next thing I knew, my newly constructed and long awaited craft counter was bisected to make space for a fly-tying station. Last week I found my dryer full of freshly disinfected feathers that dispersed upon opening the door, reminding me of a scene from a good old fashioned pillow fight in my childhood.
Thoughts of fly-fishing reminded me of the beautiful stretches of rocky rivers in Idaho and Montana — the stuff a fly-fisherman’s dreams are made of. Going back further I thought of the glistening streams cascading through the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee and the host of memories I have of camping alongside those rushing waters.
I was given the gift of growing up in Michigan, where there are watering holes around every wooded bend. Each river, lake and stream holds a treasure. Each is home to a unique set of species, environmental conditions and other factors that combine to create a unique fishing adventure. The task of the sportsman is to adapt to each environment, puzzle through an array of gear and choose a strategy that will lead to success.
Ironically, my husband’s resurrected interest in fly-fishing coincides with living in a State with the least opportunity of all the places we have lived. Nevertheless, as it appears likely we will be camped here in North Dakota for some time, he will have no choice but to adapt to fishing in unfamiliar waters.
Isn’t the same true of our calling to be ‘fishers of men’? I have served in ministry many times over the years. However moving to this new place and finding myself in unfamiliar context has me feeling like a “fish out of water”. I have experienced the spectrum of emotion from uncertain to overwhelmed, to the lack of motivation to even go fishing. Most of the time I just feel unsure how or where to begin. Worst of all is the fear that I may go out, try my hardest and fail.
I am reminded of a story:
Simon Peter…Nathanael…the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. John 21:2-6
The Great Commission compels us to go, but admittedly isn’t a manual that tells us which ‘fly’ to use in effectively sharing the Gospel. The thing is, if we desire to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ we are called to fish wherever we happen to be camped.
We don’t need all the answers to head down to the water, by faith, and cast —simply sharing the story of our own encounter with Jesus and His life-changing love. We can trust that the Master Fisherman, the same One who brought the fish to the “right side of the boat”, is standing on the shore beside us.
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