My wife and I really enjoy going fishing together. When we first met a few years ago, she was “tolerant” of my passion for fishing. She was glad that I had something that I enjoyed, but she wasn’t really interested in fishing. Then one day I convinced her to go with me. I just wanted her to try it out. We went out on a charter boat, she caught a bunch of fish, and she was hooked. Ever since then, she seems to love fishing about as much as I do. Is God amazing or what!?
A few months after that great fishing experience, she had the opportunity to go fishing with me again. This time, however, was a bit different. For some reason, the fish were just not biting that day. We fished for hours and hours, and we hardly caught a thing. Needless to say, she was a little disappointed. That is when she developed her philosophy on fishing. She decided that I like to “fish”, but she really only likes to “catch”.
For anyone who has spent enough time fishing, you know where I am going with this. There is a big difference between fishing and catching. As a true fisherman, you have to fight through the bad days “fishing” to get to the good days of actually “catching” fish. If you fish enough, you will undoubtedly have days where you catch very few fish, and it can be down right frustrating. Whether or not you catch fish, you are still going to spend a lot of time, money and energy trying to catch them. I have come home many times worn out, sunburned, sore and discouraged with absolutely nothing to show for it. Yet, I continue to go out time after time, bait those hooks, and toss them into the ocean. Why?
The answer is that I have also experienced the thrill and the excitement of having a big fish on the other end of that line. I know that the more times I cast a line into the water, the better my chances of landing that next big fish. Every single time I land one I think to myself, “This was so worth every time I went out and didn’t catch anything.” It’s not that all of those unsuccessful fishing trips weren’t difficult and frustrating. They certainly were. Just ask some of my friends who have been there to witness my facial expressions on a rough fishing day. But the truth is, those disappointments are not even worth mentioning in comparison to the stories of success. The tough days don’t keep me from going back out and trying again. In fact, the tough days make me even more eager to get back out there.
I find it so interesting that Jesus tells His disciples in Matthew 4:19 that He will make them “fishers” of men. Jesus, like anyone else who has ever been fishing, understood what this meant. He understood that fisherman don’t always catch fish. Jesus understood that fisherman have to face failure and disappointment, and that they have to strategically adjust their locations and techniques to be successful. Jesus wasn’t telling His disciples that He was going to make them the ultimate “catchers” of men who never experience rejection. Jesus was telling His disciples that He would help them experience the peace, joy, love and mercy that would keep them sharing the gospel despite rejection.
I can’t speak for everyone reading this, but experiencing rejection in sharing the gospel places more fear in my heart than just about anything else. It’s a little different than fishing, because the stakes are a bit higher. Like I said, if I have a bad day fishing, I can’t wait to get out as soon as possible to try it again. If I have a bad day trying to share the love of God with others, it sometimes makes me want to run and hide and never share the gospel again. It can be discouraging and difficult, but I just want to remind you today that often times the fisherman who catch the most fish today are the ones who have also had the most days without catching them. The same goes for people who are trying to reach others for Christ. Those who seem to be leading the most people towards Him are often the ones who have experienced the most rejection on account of His name. The potential reward far outweighs the disappointment. Seeing someone experience the love of Jesus for the first time is far more exciting than landing a 50 lb grouper. Playing even a small part in seeing someone come to Christ is the most exhilarating experience on this side of heaven. It’s not even worth comparing to the rejection and pain that could result from trying.
So how would I sum up this post today? I would say to just keep casting. God called His disciples fishers of men. True fisherman keep casting, because they know that next big moment is right around the corner, and it will be so worth it!
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18)