by Ryan Duncan
"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." – Mark 1:17
When I was younger, my father used to take me fishing up north at a place called Basswood Lake. I wasn’t a huge fan of these fishing trips at first. On some visits the sky would pour down freezing rain, and I’d be forced to sit shivering in our boat, my numb hands glued to my fishing pole. Other times it was sweltering hot, and I’d bake under the merciless sun as a giant cloud of black gnats swarmed around my head. And I haven’t even mentioned the fishing in general.
I never had the patience to sit quietly in a boat hour after hour, jigging a line and hoping some fish found my bait appealing. Occasionally I did get a bite from a bass or northern pike, but more often than not the fish broke my line during the struggle.
I’m making these trips sound like a complete nightmare, but gradually I began to enjoy them. I got better at fishing and started reeling in more fish than I lost. I developed some patience, and began enjoying the moment instead of buzzing with agitation. And as my skin got a little tougher, the irregular weather didn’t bother me as much.
Not long after one of these trips, I overheard my father talking with his friend, Doug Dunham. As I listened, the conversation shifted from fishing to Christ’s call to service, and a new understanding of Matthew 4 dawned on me:
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. – Matthew 4:18-22
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Jesus promised to make his disciples “Fishers of Men.” Sharing the gospel and fishing have a lot in common. Both require patience, the willingness to invest your time into a single purpose. Both take endurance, the ability to weather the bad days. Both involve strength, so you can fight for your goal when necessary.
But most of all, you can neither fish nor witness without grace. Because when you finally do land The Big One, you need to understand it’s not yours to keep or glory in, and humbly set it free.
I’m very grateful for all those fishing trips with my father; they taught me a lot about life.
Intersecting Faith and Life
Are you prepared to be a fisher of men? Review your strengths and consider how you’re being called to use them for the glory of God.