Two encounters with fish today come easily to mind upon reflection. Even casual readers of the blog have probably noticed an uptick in fishing references, as it’s become a hobby lately. Fishing in itself can be a maddening, invigorating, relaxing, and boring all at once. But the comparisons to life, and a life of faithfulness, come abundantly to the forefront, even if the fish are more evasive!
Sometime this afternoon, we discovered that tiny schools of fish were rolling in with the tide. Upon closer inspection, many of the fish resembled tiny sand sharks; whether or not they were actually of the shark “family,” is beyond me. But we were determined to catch one… and we were quickly joined by several other families with small children, and even a few teenagers, who wanted to be the first one to catch a ‘baby shark.’ We never did catch one, but we had fun laughing as we raced ridiculously after fish that proved to be smarter than expected.
Later, we drove to a fishing marina to await the daily return of the charter fishing boats. Boats that had caught (and released) blue marlin, as well as those that returned with tuna, dolphin (fish), and others, rolled in and threw their catches out on the pier in front of their boats as onlookers gawked at the size of their catch. But some of the boats returned with next-to-nothing: some of these captains seemed intent on hurrying their clients down the gangway with hardly a word or a picture, while others were more inclined to recognize that the sea just hadn’t rolled their way today.
In both cases, we saw the way that fish were elusive, but we also saw the way that the search or the joy of fishing could bring people together. As I reflect a bit on the life of our church, I recognize that we are often at our best when we are “fishing together,” willing to be completely unburdened by expectations or the weight of others’ judgment. When we are willing to wade in, fight the waves, and follow where the ‘Captain’ leads us, we may have success; when we go after the bold or the new and untried, we may find ourselves without the right equipment at first, and fail to catch the elusive ‘baby sharks.’
Either way, there’s always the next time, to be better prepared (with a net and not a bucket?) and to recognize that sometimes, the fishing effort has its own benefits as well.