Storm clouds overhead, the first drops of cool rain sprinkle the kayak. I’m on the far side of the lake fishing for bass. In summer they run deep, so I’m easing the line along the bottom. A pesky outboard has been roaring past me for the last ten minutes with skier’s in tow. Each time I need to position myself perpendicular or be capsized by the wake. The guy at the wheel, I’ll call him ‘Captain Bly,’ is not my friend. I’ve almost had enough, about ready to reel in, when….
I feel a tug on the line, and it tightens, so I pull back on the rod to set the hook. Feels like a big one, now my arms are talking. Bly is coming back around again though, closer this time, so I have to watch him. The bass breaks water. She’s a beauty, thick in the belly, wide mouth violently shaking its mouth to dislodge the hook. At the exact moment it jumps again, crazy Bly passes directly in front of me, making it look like the fish is mounted on the side of his boat. The waves assault me, and with no time to grab my paddle strike, sending my arms in a wild attempt to balance. By now the pole in my left hand is bent in a tight arc under the kayak. What a bass! Thunder, crushing wake, pelting rain and murderous fight, it’s what fishing was made for. Moments later the lunker lies exhausted on my lap. Then…
“Kerplunk!” Good fight, my friend.
Good catches make good stories because they aren’t easy. Sometimes hooks end up in fingers, along with broken rods, and crazy unexpected drama. But that’s what makes fishing, fishing! The same goes for when we’re fishing for men. That’s because along-side our boat is another angler, the enemy of our soul, who seeks to lure us with just the right kind of bait that catches the eye. He’s smart too, deft with the rod. He feels the first inkling of a tug in our heart toward the lure, and will wait until we’re committed. Then he sets the hook! The danger of fishing for men is that we voluntarily put ourselves at cross hairs with the likes of ‘Captain Bly.’
By the way, what has caught your eye lately?
Someone admitted to me once that they were taking a break from going out of their way to share the gospel, decided the cost was too high. They wanted out of the boat, swamped one too many times, I guess. I thought to myself, please don’t do it, the stakes are too high. Bly lures us with a rubber worm, instead of the living bait of the gospel. Plus, when he fishes, there’s no “kerplunk,” because he fishes to kill, not set free.
That’s why the word for today is keep fishing, and don’t bother with the shallows. These days the fish are in deep water. It will take everything in us to win the prize, as Paul said, becoming all things to all men, that we might win some. We fight hard and reel steady, the pole bent deep in the water. It’s in the fight, the desire to let God use us, that our own hearts are hooked—in love. Through every hard conversation, every escapade of setback, and every push-off suffered, let the uncertainty and adventure of fishing for men and women do it’s work, to move you more deeply in love.