People tell me I have a gift for evangelism. I’m not so sure, being an introvert and all, but I do know how much I love it, and want to stay bold doing it. For me it’s about watching God open eyes, and seeing His power overcome the most stubborn heart. It reminds me how much I enjoyed taking my son’s fishing when they were just old enough to bait the hook.
I remember watching their eyes dance when we caught something, or the feeling I had helping them untangle their line, or extract a hook from an ear, or even the boredom of watching still bobbers; of sitting on a bucket kicking dirt, or throwing sticks in the water. Throwing sticks? Of course! I knew the fish were spooked by every ‘splash,’ but it was more fun for me to watch them enjoy our time together, then to catch something. In so many ways, I think if we held that perspective we would enjoy sharing our faith a whole lot more. Evangelism is going fishing with Dad. It’s an extension of our relationship, an invitation into intimacy.
We lived in Florida then, and down the road there was a pond on private property, teeming with bass. Point one: God knows where the fish are, and he takes pains to get us into position to cast the line. But there are always obstacles. In this case there was a sign that warned those thinking about crossing the fence, not to! I happily led my two toe-head wide-eyed naïve- too-young-to-read sons into their first trespassing experience. Of course, God doesn’t want us to break the law in our zeal to evangelize! But any father wants his kids to have a great fishing adventure.
Point two: God knows what will thrill our hearts, and helps us discover the most profound secret in life, that we are created for fishing for the souls of men. We feel most alive with a bass on the line! But don’t miss this. The experience my sons and I shared together was the priceless jewel, not whether or not we caught fish. I loved spending time with them. God loves spending time with us, too.
Point three: God doesn’t care if our ‘line gets tangled.’ My fondest memory with my own dad was handing him the rod and reel to detangle my mess. Most of the time it happened after I had a fish on the line, and in my excitement things went haywire. The fish had gotten away, and all I had to show was mass of twisted line sitting on the reel. It never ceased to amaze me how proficient he was at making it all better. God does the same thing. What happens when we share our faith, and the response is negative? Or, apathetic? Or, really confusing? Spiritually, the fish ‘got away,’ and we’re left entangled. That’s when we hand the rod to Dad. We thank Him in advance. We gratefully give Him back our expectations, our proficiency, even our sadness. He in turn will remind us that His purpose for our life is being expressed by faith, for Him that’s what matters.
One day sitting on the bait bucket, and watching my boys play by the pond’s edge, I noticed the bobber missing, and the rod actually being pulled into the water. I yelled over to my oldest, and calmly said. “You got one on, better grab it before it’s too late!” He dropped his sticks, and grabbed the line, and from where I sat, I knew we had a big one on. For a minute or two, he held fast, but forgot to start reeling in. His arms were tiring, and then he turned to me, and simply said. “Dad….Help!” A faint panic was in his voice, so I ran over, but I didn’t snatch the fishing pole. I got behind him, and cupped my hands over his, and whispered, “you can reel him in now, let’s do this together.” And so we did. Final Point: God holds the fishing pole with us, not for us. For some reason, He has allowed us to partner with Him in the most sacred and important work left for us to do, before we join Him in heaven.
Remember, evangelism is going fishing with Dad.