But…What About the Fish?

Luke 5:1-11

If you are a regular reader, you already know that my Daddy and Uncle Glen were more brothers than brothers-in-law. One of their favorite outings together was fishing.  It was a warm, sunny day when they took me, my brother David, and my cousin Darrell out on tiny Balmorhea Lake in a small “John boat” powered by a little pull-start outboard motor.  As was our custom, we shunned superfluous equipment, such as oars or life-vests.  After all, the lake is only 556 acres and 25 feet deep.  What could go wrong?


We set out with our Zebco 202 rod-and-reel, tackle box, worms, and minnows.  As we arrived on the other side of the lake and set up, the fish started biting almost immediately.  There are few things in life more fun than hitting a good solid crappie run.  We had brought a large tall trash can in which to keep the fish we caught.  Every one of us was catching fish as quickly as we could bait the hook. We were so busy catching fish, we totally missed the cloud bank building in the southwest. (We were on the northeast side of the lake.)

At the point when the trash can could contain no more crappie, my father looked up, elbowed Uncle Glen, and pointed to the sky. “That doesn’t look good.” Glen replied, “Yeah. We need to get out of here.”  Glen gave a single solid yank on the rope to start the motor. It jumped to life, and he hit the throttle.  We made it only a few dozen yards before hitting a solid patch of lily pads.  (Crappie love cover, and the lily pads were taken as the sign of a good fishing spot.) The motor kept running, but we weren’t going anywhere. The undergrowth was so thick, it had sheared the pin on the propeller.

At that point, it began to sprinkle.  The situation was about to get rough, as we could see the wind and rain coming across the lake.  We had to find a way to the nearest land and fast. (Did I mention no oars and no life-vests?)  The only possible option was to use the trash can as a make-shift oar. It was tall and skinny, so it just might work.  The problem was, we would have to dump out the fish.  There was a collective pregnant pause. What about the fish? It was a true dilemma, a conundrum, a classic Catch 22.  About that time a lightening bolt and clap of thunder brought us back to our senses…fish dumped.

Using only a trash can, my dad and Glen were able to keep the nose of the boat into the wind, thereby avoiding getting capsized, throughout the duration of the west Texas thunderstorm.  After an hour or so, we managed to make land unharmed and fish-less. We were glad to have our lives and sad to have lost the catch of a lifetime.

In the years that followed, Daddy and Uncle Glen often used that story as a sermon illustration when preaching on Jesus calming the storm (Mark 4). We had been in that very situation.  For me, however, there is another appropriate application.  That day, we chose to value human life over the massive haul of fish.

That’s what Jesus was getting at when he called his first disciples. They too were fishing. They too experienced a miraculous catch. Then, they had a choice; they could choose to finish celebrating and marketing their haul, or they could value serving people over their life-long career. Luke says they “forsook all,” fish, nets, boats, livelihood, and followed him.

The point I make is this: sometimes God gives us miraculous provision for our lives. He has done that for me more than a few times. Sometimes, though, he may call you to then forsake the very blessing he just sent you, in order to focus on a greater ministry.  It won’t be an easy choice. Keep in mind, though, it could get you out of a storm.


Published in: on August 22, 2017 at 10:26 am  Leave a Comment  

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