Fisherman’s Blues or Bounty?

by Tom Wacaster

It has been quite some time since I donned a fisherman’s attire, along with the necessary equipment to successfully bring home a morsel of fish for supper. I made a futile attempt at several years ago when my son, and a couple of the grandchildren made our way to a local pond, baited a couple of hooks, and made a pretense at what might otherwise be called “fishing.” But who were we kidding. The minnows were half dead by the time we got them in the water, the grand-kids were throwing rocks from the shore, and the worms were being slowly “set free” by little Benjamin (he hated to see us torture those precious little worms, so he became the self-proclaimed liberator of our squirmy, wiggly friends). After about an hour of the hot sun, disinterested grand-kids, and the dream of better things to do, we packed it in and headed for home, soothing our conscience that at least we had tried.

That experience was quite a contrast to a trip I once made with some more dedicated and experienced fishermen. I was holding a meeting in Paris, Texas and brother Haskell England, Grover Self, Billy Casey, and myself got up early in the morning and headed to the lake. Now these three men were serious about their fishing: tackle boxes the size of suitcases, at least three fishing poles per man, two boats with outboard motors and smaller trolling engines, and an assortment of bait and lures that would make Baskin-Robbins 32 flavors pale in comparison. Likely you can guess the outcome of each of these two fishing expeditions. In the first the only thing we caught was the “fisherman’s blues,” while in the second we enjoyed the fisherman’s bounty and brought home a stringer full of fresh fish for dinner. I learned something from that fishing trip with those men. If you are going to be successful in fishing, you have to equip yourself well, get the hook in the water, and be serious about catching fish. Jesus promised His disciples that if they would follow Him that He would make them to be “fishers of men.” That same promise extends to you and me. The very purpose of our existence is to catch men and bring them to the Lord. Recognizing that it is God Who gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:7), there is still a part that we play in bringing men to Christ.

First, we must be properly equipped. We must first make sure we have the proper equipment, and that we know how to use it. The equipment is the gospel, “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16-17). But just because we have the Bible is no guarantee that we will use it correctly. Thus the admonition to “study” in order that we might “rightly divide” God’s word and thereby “handle it aright” (2 Tim. :15).

Second, we must be serious about the business of winning souls. No halfhearted attempt will get the job done. I cannot stand on the bank and simply “wish” I could win souls. I cannot allow myself to get distracted over the “worms” and the “rocks,” or allow my mind to become preoccupied with the cares of the world that might hinder me from the task at hand. This is serious business; this is my “Father’s Business.”

Finally, with the equipment at my disposal, I must eventually put the hook in the water. The boat, the tackles, the bait, the outboard motor, and the rods and reels are superfluous if the fisherman does not put that hook in the water. So it is with you and me. Until and unless we sow the seed, actually get in the water and “fish for men,” our stringer will remain empty. And we will wring our hands and wonder why in the world we are not converting more to Christ than we are, and, like those hot, weary, empty-handed fishermen who made a half-hearted effort at catching fish, we will go away with the “fisherman’s blues” rather than the “bounty.” Meanwhile our Lord will remind us, “behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white already unto harvest” (John 4:35).

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