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  • Writer's pictureDr. Jim Baldwin

Hunkered Down Homilies – Fishing

A fishing boat in the water

ENan and I had an opportunity to spend a few days at Topsail Beach (pronounced Topsul by locals) last week. Topsail is a beautiful family-centered beach and one of our favorite beaches in North Carolina. I have a lot of wonderful memories fishing from the surf at Topsail Beach with my grandfather and, many years later, with my grandchildren.

My fishing experiences with my grandfather taught me to dislike two kinds of fishing.  The first is pier fishing.  Even before cell phones and Facebook posts, people just seemed to know when folks were catching fish off the pier.  Suddenly you are crowded between folks who may snag the back of your britches and people who always seem to get their line tangled up with yours.  One crossed line is not a big problem.  If you get several lines tangled up, you might as well cut your line and go home. 

The other kind of fishing I never enjoyed was net fishing.  We would pull a net behind the boat down the Intracoastal Waterway catching shrimp, fish, crabs, and anything else that happened to be in the water.  I enjoyed the fruits of the catch, but it never felt fair.  The saltwater critters didn’t have a chance.  We caught them all.

Jesus enlisted a number of professional fishermen to be his first disciples, even extending his invitation in these terms: “Come follow me and I will send you out to fish for people.”  (Matthew 4:19)  The fishermen Jesus addressed would not have imagined a smartly clad person wading in a mountain stream delicately casting a hand-tied fly from the end of an LL Bean flyrod.  They fished with nets.  They were not interested in playing fair with the fish.  They wanted results.  Jesus’ first and last encounter with the disciples was set in the context of nets full of fish.  On the first fishing trip “they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.”  (Luke 5:6)  On the last journey, they caught 153 fish, the same as the number of nations identified at that time in history. (John 21:11)

Jesus is making it clear.  He wants every single man, woman, and child in his hands.  When he sends his disciples out fishing for people, he means ALL people.

Anyone want to go fishing?

Dr. Jim Baldwin

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