“Look at this huge one!” my son Jordy exclaimed as he reeled in a sunfish the size of a half dollar. We had been spending a beautiful evening on Lake Minnie Belle fishing for sunnies as we listened to Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline. The sun had started to set and we still had not found the “honey hole” we were looking for. We had caught plenty of sunfish throughout the evening, but nothing big enough to keep. The excitement was all the same for the kids though. A fish on is a fish on!
A few days later I was chatting with a friend about our recent evening out which had left our hearts full, but our bellies empty. We laughed over how thrilled the kids are — even with the tiniest fish. My friend then shared about a recent fishing outing she had with her father where the sunnies were practically jumping in the boat! I asked her where they went — half expecting a response of, “a secret lake off of hush-hush avenue.” On the contrary! She shared that they had been at another central Minnesota lake using canned corn for bait!
Low and behold, a week later, Karl and I packed up the kids and the boat and headed toward the lake. We motored around for a bit, checking out the lake, speculating where the fish might be. I helped our kids bait some hooks and we tossed a few lines out as Karl anchored us in. Another fisherman trolled by and asked if we were fishing for sunnies. I told him indeed we were and he shared with us exactly where to catch them — 20 feet from the weed line. I thanked him and wished him luck as he continued and Karl repositioned us to the precise place our fellow angler suggested.
Within mere seconds of throwing out lines, we had rods bending. Five of us were fishing that day and we reeled in one sunnie after another. In total, we brought home 22 sunfish and threw back dozens more. That evening, my son Easton learned how to clean our catch and we ate to our hearts content.
Our fishing success was based on the fact that our fellow fishing enthusiasts were willing to share helpful information. Had it not been for those few tips, we would have come home empty handed again.
In Matthew 4:19, Jesus says, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men!” In this text, Jesus is gathering disciples — calling them from their vocation to follow him. Not only is he calling them to follow him, but Jesus is also asking them to minister to others. The word “fishers” here, according to Pulpit Commentary, suggest care, patience, skill and endurance. Those are great words to link fishing and ministering!
When we choose to follow Jesus, we are willingly becoming fishers of people. Some of the folks we have the opportunity to minister to might not be ready to bite. Other times, people may be so hungry for the things of God that they practically jump in the boat!
Friends, let's be generous with our fishing information. I wonder, if we choose to share fishing successes and tips, might we be able to see hearts and rods bending?
Whitney Nesse is a sixth-generation livestock farmer who is deeply rooted in her faith and family. She writes from her central Minnesota farm.