A Girl Talks About Fishing

My husband has grown up fishing the flats of Tampa Bay.  He is gifted and knowledgeable. He’s at ease and challenged by the life around him. I fell in love with him watching him navigate these waters, watching him catch our dinner. I’ve grown to love fishing with him and there’s really no place I’d rather be than out on the water with him, on a beautiful day, reeling in fish, or reading a book (sometimes I get bored, I’m still a girl). I forget about everything else when we’re out there. Since we’ve been together for more than a decade I’ve gotten all too familiar with the “fishing day” routine.

Here’s how it plays out:

Wake up super early.

Pack a cooler with sandwiches, drinks, fruit and (almost always) Snickers bars for quick eating. No bananas. They are bad luck (not really, but one day he didn’t catch any fish and bananas were on the boat so now it’s a thing).

Grab the tackle, the cooler, the towels, sunscreen, bug repellant, and coffee (BECAUSE IT IS SO EARLY!)

Head out onto the water to find the bait.

Watch as your husband maneuvers the boat and throws the cast net.

Marvel at his ability to multi-task because this is the only place it happens.

Let me explain this cast-net situation, in case you’re not familiar. This net is like the proverbial wheel that can’t be re-invented. The mechanics of it hasn’t changed much over the last couple of centuries.

I’ll try not to get to technical here; picture a ginormous, round net (all technical terms); with weights attached around the outside. This helps the net sink into the water quickly, trapping the fish. In the middle of the net is a hole (also a technical term). Around the hole is a rope that wraps around the edge of the net and serves to bring the net into itself to capture all the lovely fish.  To release the fish, you release the cap which is positioned over the hole. Shake the fish out. Then do it again, unless you’re able to catch all of your bait in one cast, like my husband does every time because he’s a real fisherman (I was forced to write that.)

Now that we’re all on the same page, I gotta say, I love watching my man throw a cast net.  The art of tossing the cast net takes practice, skill and upper body strength that I don’t possess, which is why I was so impressed the first time I saw him do it. He knew I would be. I married him for it. He won.

Now that we have kids, this skillful handling is still impressive but for different reasons. These days, I wrangle the kids while he rushes around the boat, watching, waiting, and anticipating the bait’s next move. He positions the boat to drift toward the bait and then swoops in. He’s agile, like a cat, stepping over floaties and snacks, squirt guns and flip-flops. Wow, babe. Just wow.

He stands as close to the edge as possible, with one end of the net between his teeth, and tosses it out over the water.  We all watch as the net sinks just below the surface. This is THE magical moment. Our kids rush to the side to see if he caught any bait, or if he missed them (oh, wait, this never happens). We’re all eager to know: how many fish did we catch and how big are they? When he brings the fish over the side of the boat and shakes them out, the kids watch the greenbacks flop all around the deck; then they count them and sometimes name them; trap them under their hands and finally throw them into the livewell.  It’s a lot of excitement just for little bait fish!

Why am I giving you this education on cast nets and fishing? Because Jesus called his first disciples, Peter and Andrew, right as they were casting their nets into the water. For a fisherman, this is not an ideal time for instructions or an invitation.

Here’s what happened:

Matthew 4:18

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee he saw two brothers, 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. 

They left their nets.

Now, the Bible doesn’t tell us if the fishing was good that day, but I imagine it was. Throughout scripture, Jesus asks us to leave everything to follow Him. “Everything” to them would’ve been good fishing. But even if this wasn’t the case, the very last thing a fisherman wants to do (whether it’s a hobby or his livelihood) after he casts a net on the water is to release it before he sees what it holds.  In other words, he doesn’t want to walk away from his fishing pole when he feels a tug on the line.

How do I know this?

Y’all, I’ve seen my supernaturally patient and steady husband drop his sandwich in the water, spill his drink, knock over small children, steal the rod out of my hand (I don’t blame him for this one), and almost run into a piling when the “fishing” started to turn into “catching”. It just doesn’t make any sense to leave your line, or your net in the water and walk away.

But that’s what they did. That’s what he asks us to do too. He asks us to leave it all, because there is nothing on the other side of curiosity better than His love.

And while I’m so impressed that they left it all without questions and any understanding of what they’d be doing, for me that’s not even the best part. My favorite part of this story is when Jesus says, “I will make you fishers of men.” I wish I knew what they were thinking when he said that. I imagine they were like, “Hmm…he said something about fishing. I don’t know what the heck a fisher of men is though. (Shrug) Let’s check it out.” The invitation had just enough intrigue, just enough lure to lead them to Him. It was simply an invitation to an unknown adventure; an opportunity to do what they loved and were born to do, only God’s way.

We’ve been given that invitation too. Jesus’ invitations to me often sound like Peter and Andrew’s; they are usually vague, so I’ll have to choose to just follow him and trust him.  His invitations are exciting, so I won’t delay. And they are woven into what I’m already doing, or something that I already love, so I will pursue it with passion.  What more could I possibly be fishing for?