Personally, I’m not a fan of fishing, I am a vegetarian and I find angling a bit cruel – even though many people have told me the fish don’t feel anything, I’m not so sure. So I was a little surprised when I asked for a subject for the creating encounter blog today and God said “fishing.”
A lot of the men in my life love fishing. My Dad went fishing with his own father, in a boat made by him, and those times are some of his best memories. It was a time of closeness and bonding. Sharing that experience out in the middle of a lake was somehow calming and tender. And though my brothers all went fishing with my Dad when we were young, I don’t remember ever being asked. It was clearly a male activity, done to get out of the “female” space of home. Odd really, the things we are conditioned to think. I’m sure lots of girls and women enjoy fishing, but certainly in those days, and even a little now, we didn’t get invited to the party.
It’s rare for people to just sit and be still in nature whilst doing nothing. We are not able to just “be” and so having a fishing rod with you at least gives you an excuse for sitting quietly. Fishing can also be a good excuse for some alone time. Another thing we don’t get enough of. My husband used to take himself off fishing as a child, and sit reading, with no bait on his hook, just to get some peace and enjoy some solitude. These quiet places can be full of encounter with God.
Jesus’ first four disciples were fishermen, although doing it for a living of course is something quite different. Fish seem to have an important role in the lives of him and his friends, not surprising when they lived near to the Sea of Galilee, and so close to the Mediterranean. Jesus knew where all the best shoals were, which fish happened to have just swallowed several coins, and how to multiply just a few of them into enough to feed a multitude. It was also what he was given as his first post-Resurrection meal, and what he cooked the disciples for breakfast on the beach the day afterwards.
When Jesus called Andrew, Peter, James and John to follow him, he told them he would make them “fishers of men,” and of course the early Church used the fish as a symbol of their faith. Perhaps he knew even then that some of those to come after would catch heavy nets full at revivals and altar calls, and others would do their fishing (as I prefer to) sitting with just one fish at a time, allowing it space, getting to know it, and letting it swim its own way in the current of the gospel. There are lots of ways to encounter God, to tell people his Good News, and to become closer to him near to those creatures who have learned to live, move and have their being in something much greater than themselves.
Text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt Photo from Pixabay