My partner for the ‘afternoon of outreach’ was Daniel, a high school student from Brooklyn. It was a first for him, this ‘going out and talking to perfect strangers.’ He was nervous, visibly. Later, he confided that for the past couple of years atheists, who challenged his every belief, had bullied him. The weekend retreat felt like a safe place, he said. Now, as we walked into a Home Good’s store, I spoke softly.
“We’re going to find a husband sitting somewhere in here, whose shopping stamina just gave out, and he’ll be seated on a cushy chair.” Daniel smiled, but it faded fast. He chewed his lip, eyes wide. He had never talked to anyone about his personal faith. That’s why I continued with a little perspective.
“Fishing for men is a lot like fishing, I said. It’s not really about catching anything. If we trust God, He will lead us to the fish, and he will bait our line, and he will help us bring it in. We’re little children learning how this is done, and the most important thing is to enjoy our Daddy. Whether you catch one, or not, is secondary to the thrill of just being with Him. So let’s enjoy Him, and the people he brings across our path. It’s what we were created for!”
Right about then, we spotted our exhausted husband. He was elderly, seated on a sofa with a big red sale sticker on it. Walter, who later told us growing up he was known as “Walter, never at the altar,” was a perfect ‘first’ for Daniel. He was from the old country, had migrated here in 68’, “when the Russians invaded.” He loved our light banter, and was curious about Daniel. “Tell him your story, Daniel,” I prodded. So, for the first time in his life, Daniel began to relate how he grew up in church, and how knowing God personally made all the difference. Walter’s eyes grew misty, and his smile never left. “I’m a mainline kind of guy, always have been,” he said. His wistful conversant style, and broken English blessed us both. When his wife strolled over with her cart full, he ambled away.
That’s when Daniel and I fist pumped! You would have thought he caught the winning touch down. In the moment, he had discovered God created him for fishing. After that he was bold, eager to tell his story. Eager to cast, to see where the fish were biting. Eager to spend the time with Dad, enjoying how He led us, enjoying how He pointed to the right ‘fish’ to cast by, and especially enjoying a couple times when fish felt close to the boat.
This is why Ginnette and I have spent the last 35 years along side students like Daniel.
This is why I love to go ‘fishing.’
Next time you see a parent and their child casting a line, let it remind you how much God enjoys spending time fishing with us, leading us in what we were created to do.