Being near the water is my favorite way to relax. Fishing is a bonus. It gives me something to do while allowing my mind to wander. I can sit for hours, soaking a worm, or reeling in cast after cast. When I do get a bite, I’m probably more surprised than the fish.
Having a nice fish on the line, can really get your adrenalin going. Arriving at that point, however, requires preparation. You need to have the right equipment: good strong line and the proper lure or bait. A knowledge of the water depth and conditions will improve the odds of finding your prey. Catching and landing a fish, however, is largely a matter of timing and patience.
Christians generally equate fishing with God’s evangelistic work. Most are familiar with; Matthew 4:19 “Come follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” Jesus’ first disciples; Andrew, Peter, James and John were all fishermen by trade. Therefore, Jesus offered them the prospect of a “new catch”, in order to put His work into terms with which they could identify. However, it wasn’t until the day of Pentecost, that they fully understood the implication of His commissioning. When God’s Spirit came upon them, their eyes were opened.
Not to “rock the boat”, but, I want you to look at “spiritual fishing” from a different perspective. I believe Satan does more “fishing” for souls, than does God. Allow me to explain, before wishing me to experience Jonah’s fate as a giant guppy goodie.
First off, I’m limiting the fishing allegory to that of modern day, rod and reel. Casting, is simply sending out a line. This line stretches from the rod in your hand to a point, hopefully, inhabited with fish. To obtain a good cast, a weight or sinker is attached to the line. This weight takes the line down into the depths of the water. The more weight attached, the deeper it goes. Fishing at various depths will produce different results. Quite often the prize catch, the really big lunkers, are down deep. I’ve always found it curious that the fish ignore both the line and the weight. A passing glance is about the extent of their interest. The bait at the end of the line is what catches their attention.
Let’s talk a bit about those lures. There are all kinds, shapes, sizes and colors. One fisherman may prefer using live bait, while another may carry a tackle box filled with every imaginable imitation. Lures may have a shiny finish, or they may include a scent which is appealing only to certain fish. Whatever the choice, motion is a requirement. Every fisherman knows that movement attracts attention. A motionless bait has little appeal or effect. Fish are drawn, not only by sight, but by vibration, as well. Some baits are even designed to stir up the bottom, clouding the fish’s vision as to what they are about to bite. Whatever works, as long as the fish find it appealing.
To fishermen, the most important part of a lure, is the hook. Attracting fish without a means of catching them would be an exercise in futility. Fishing hooks are needle sharp, and barbed. The sharp point provides easy penetration of the tough jaw cartilage. The barb is an equally sharp point. However, it projects backwards from the hook’s point. Its purpose is to prevent the hook from being easily withdrawn, once it has been embedded.
Keeping all of this in mind, look at some of the spiritual applications.
If there’s one thing that Satan is great at, it’s feeding us a line. Satan’s lines are twisted versions of the truth, which ensnare and entangle unfortunate souls. His lines are paid out with an attached weight; the sinking weight of sin and guilt. Satan knows about fishing at varying depths of faith. Surface Christianity yields the most abundant catch. However, his real trophies are those he can haul up from the depth of their faith. As sinners, we are all susceptible to being caught off guard. So often, we ignore the line and the weight attached to it, and see only the tempting lure, which he dangles in front of us.
What is it that makes sin so alluring to people? How can even the most devout Christian become hooked? Satan sees and knows our weaknesses; greed, lust, fear, anger, ego…the list changes for each individual. Then he baits us with shining prospects and false hopes. Talk about a full tackle box! This generation is being constantly baited with phrases telling us to just do it, have no fear and to forsake convention, having been there and done that. Those who are striving to attain material wealth and fame, at all costs, are called “movers and shakers”. How clouded our vision can be, when these people and things are viewed through the eyes of the world. Humans are action oriented, by nature, and Satan’s lures offer just that. When we give in to the temptation, that’s when Satan sets his hook. Sometimes we feel the point immediately; other times it pierces so quickly, that we flounder without knowing quite why. Regardless, if and when we try to back away, we encounter the barbed results of our sins. We are then faced with making a choice. We can simply allow him to reel us in, or we can fight. If we rely on our own strength, we’ll soon tire and be hauled up, gasping for the Living Water of Christ’s salvation.
What does God say about all of this? What kind of “Fisherman”, is He? From Heaven, He sent His Son, Jesus, into our presence. His Spirit remains with us as a secure lifeline, securely held by the Father’s hand. Instead of attaching weights, He lifts them from us. God uses no bait to entice us. Instead, He extends to us an invitation. His promises are never false and conceal nothing. God doesn’t entice us with the aquistitions of the here and now. His is the offer of eternal life; a place in His Kingdom. Psalm 37:34 tells us to: “Wait for the Lord and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.” See the difference? Satan says, “Go get it!”. God says, “Wait, and I’ll give it to you!”. No hooks are necessary. Christ was pierced for the sake of our salvation. There is no pain and frustration of being held by a barb. When we grasp His truth, His love holds us close.
Will we allow ourselves to be added, as a trophy, to Satan’s stringer? Will we ask God to wash the scales from our eyes, so that we can better focus on grasping the prize of His salvation? It’s our choice.
While writing this, I have become aware of one other point. Perhaps it’s the one God had intended for me, all along. Christ’s call to the disciples, stated “I will make you …”. He did not say, “You will be…”. That is the key! God (re)”makes” or changes us, when we receive His salvation. As Christians, we become “a new creature”. What better lure could God use, to entice others to come to Him? We bear the scars of Satan’s barbs, yet we’re living proof that God can free us. We’ve been released to warn others of the dangers. He is sending us out, free of the weight of sin’s conviction. God wants others to see and desire those changes in their lives. His desire is that none should perish. Our purpose is to help guide them towards “the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” (Revelations 22:1)