LET’S GO FISHING!
RIGHT UP FRONT
Jesus wasted no time sharing with his disciples what their primary charge was once they decided to follow him: to become fishers of men (Matthew 4:19). They were not called to be religious “groupies” or deep theological juggernauts. They were called first of all to follow him, and then to fish for men. Anyone with a heart surrendered to Jesus and who values people can do that. I have noted two things about effective fishermen – the kind that fish for actual fish. They have two kinds of “go to” spots.
THE REGULAR SPOT
I have lived in Hawaii all of my life. We are surrounded by the beautfiul blue abundance of the Pacific Ocean, rich and teeming with fish of all kinds. You would think fishermen here could go anywhere and land a sizable catch. In certain seasons that may be so, but most successful fish catchers have favorite spots they frequent on a regular basis. They fish in these spots consistently because they catch fish there.
The same holds true for us if we are to be successful in catching men (and women of course) for Christ. We should find a regular spot where fish are present and responsive. A place where conversations can be had, connections made, and relationships formed. For myself one such spot has always been the gym. As I work out, I look out for opportunities to connect. Over time, a series of mini-conversations evolve into quality connections that lead to meaningful relationships.
I once worked out alongside a recently retired, highly decorated law enforcement officer and military veteran with a buff body and a great disposition. We struck up a conversation, and I felt led to follow that up with a conversation over lunch – on me. I was sincerely interested in knowing more about his experiences. It turned out to be a life saving lunch. Battling long term depression after being shot and losing his family over an addiction to drugs prescribed for his recovery, he had planned to kill himself after one final workout. His cheery disposition reflected the joy he felt at finalizing plans on how he was going to end his misery. Our conversation gave him hope, and one year later, he gave his heart to Christ. It was not an event but a sometimes difficult journey of discipleship through relationship. The process challenged me for sure, but changed me for good. The gym would become a regular fishing spot, and I have tried since to “look out” as I “work out.”
THE RANDOM SPOT
When I fished with my Father as a youngster, there would come times when certain species would be “running” – a term used to describe large schools of specific types of fish frequenting a certain location. We would leave the usual fishing spot and head over to where the random “run” was happening. There, everybody would be catching fish – even those who didn’t know what they were doing. However, those runs were just that – random. The real fishermen did not rely on those moments, but cultivated the regular habit of going to the regular spot at the regular time.
In the same vein, if we are to be effective fishers of men, we cannot rely on random runs or periodic divine appointments. Those special encounters, while memorable cannot become the staple. As disciples we must cultivate regular, fishing habits and frequent regular fishing spots. As we sow consistently at those regular spots, I believe we will find the random become more regular. Your spot could be the office, a class, a club, or a team. Just remember to make people the most important focus.
Stay the course, sow the gospel, and remember, Jesus sent them out by twos so take another believer along. And then, go fishing. And have fun doing it!