By: Dennis Bates

Everyone should go fishing at least once in their life.

It doesn’t matter if you still fish using a float and a worm or if you tie your own flies, there is something about fishing that helps you get your mind off of things and relax. I have a friend who has a framed quotation on the wall that says, “The worst day of fishing is still better than the best day at work.” I think his sign is right.

There was a country song not too long ago that talked about a guy who wanted to go fishing, but his wife threatened to leave him if he walked out the door to go. She told him he had to choose her or going fishing. The hook for the song came in the chorus where he sang, “I’m sure going to miss her.”

That may be a little extreme, even though it is funny, but fishing is something that gets in your blood in a way that’s hard to explain. Those who fish know what I’m talking about. There is a certain restful simplicity about fishing you just have to experience to understand.

 Besides, you can’t really understand a lot of the Biblical references in the New Testament unless you have fished. I was reminded of one of those references last week when I spent a few days on a lake in northern Minnesota fishing with an in-law who just happens to have a boat. Actually he has two boats. We took the smaller of the two, some live bait, a handful of lures and our fishing rods and reels and headed out.

The wind on the lake kept us trolling along the shore most of the day. That means we kept the motor running just enough to guide us along so the wind and the waves didn’t blow us around haphazardly. It is a fairly effective way to fish during the summer when a lot of the fish are less motivated to come out to play.

I fished one side of the boat and he fished the other so we didn’t end up spending most of the day untangling our lines. We used similar lures and similar rods and reels. However, I caught one fish after another while he caught very few. When he became frustrated with that result, we switched sides of the boat and then he caught fish while I watched.

It reminded me of the story at the end of the Gospel of John when Peter and several disciples fished all night and caught nothing. In the morning Jesus appeared to them and told them they should cast their nets on the other side of the boat, so they did. And they caught so many fish they could barely haul them all in.

That’s just how fishing is. My father used to say sometimes that something didn’t work because I wasn’t holding my mouth right. When I was younger, I’d try to change the expression on my face even though I thought he was just being silly. Sometimes he was just being silly, but sometimes when I held my mouth a different way, I got a different result.

Smiles seemed to work best, but I don’t’ think the way I held my mouth had all that much to do with changing the result. I think it was more that I changed the way I looked at something, the way I felt about it, and the way I approached it. Changing the way I held my mouth just gave me an excuse to see things differently.

Perhaps that’s all that happened with the disciples too.  Jesus told them they needed to look at their efforts differently; they needed to look at him. When they did, they caught fish because they were looking on the right side of the boat…His side.

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