A few events have caught my attention this past week linking God, fishing and the need to be vigilant on both spiritual and day-to-day fronts.
Last week our 16-year-old son Luke and our dear friend Troy were on our floating docks in front of our house, fishing for humpy salmon in the Skagit River. Troy lay on his back under a big dead tree that leaned over the water, casting and reeling in slowly. Luke stood on another dock beside him, casting out into the blue-green river.
Luke, lamenting that they weren’t catching fish like others in many boats around them, was comparing his lack of s uccess fishing to his frustrations at not experiencing God’s tangible presence. Why do some people seem to feel God’s Presence, getting touched or healed in ways that excite and encourage them, while others go to all the same places and want more of God but don’t feel or experience anything for themselves? That question was about to be partially answered, not in church but right there on the river.
Luke saw some fish rolling down steam and ran down the bank and cast out. Immediately he had a fish on and yelled to Troy, who jumped up with his pole, caught up with Luke, cast out and himself hooked a salmon. They skewered the fish through the gills on a tree branch, but Luke’s fish’s gill broke, leaving Troy’s fish hanging there bleeding all alone.
“I looked at the fish all covered with blood and thought it looked like it was being crucified,” recounts Troy. I took it down and lay it on the sand and placed my hands on it, giving thanks to God for its life. I felt the life leave it and just then heard a big crash.”
While Luke was reeling in another fish, Troy ran over to the dock to see what had happened. The big dead tree had broken in half, falling into another dead tree which had been propelled down onto the dock right where Troy had been laying. Just then Luke ran up and said:
“Whoa Troy, if you’d been there you would have been dead.”
Troy couldn t help but see the connections between Jesus and the fish: “It’s like the fish gave its life for me. He pondered in detail the amazing timing of his deliverance from near certain death.
“When I was laying there on my back casting I had decided to take 7 more casts. I was reeling in slowly so each cast was taking about 2 ½ minutes. I was on my second cast when Luke caught his fish. About four minutes passed between when I jumped up and when the tree fell on the dock. If he hadn’t caught the fish I would have been there another 15 minutes or so.”
In the next half hour Luke and Troy caught their limit, bringing 8 fish up for a Pascal barbeque dinner. But the story’s not over yet…
The following Sunday we had a big baptism service way up river on the bank of the Skagit near Tierra Nueva. Gracie and I baptized 14 of our community members in the cold Cascade flow amidst anglers whose lures and sand-shrimp nearly entangled our joyous baptisms. The Holy Spirit was coming on strong as people came up from the water, making it hard for Gracie and I to stay standing (see http://s616.photobucket.com/albums/tt246/waharpist/baptism%20august%202009 .
On my way up from the bank I received a call from Lourdes, a farm worker whose family has been part of our ministry for our entire 15 years here. Her husband Boni had=2 0been under his truck when the jack failed and the truck fell down on his chest. He was in the Emergency room and they wanted me there quick. I rushed to the hospital and hung out and prayed with the family around my traumatized friend who should have been dead. Just as the doctors made us leave the room so they could take an X-ray, two paramedics rolled in another of my beloved charges, Jose who had just fallen out of a tree.
For the next few hours I was in the ER, going from Jose’s room to Boni’s, praying for them and talking with their families. Boni is now recovering from a broken collarbone, dislocated shoulder and lots of scrapes and bruises and Jose from a broken neck.
While not all suffering and calamities can be avoided and God can rescue us in spite of ourselves, these events have reminded me of the need to be vigilant, paying close attention to what God may be warning us about or calling us to. But how do we discern God’s protective, saving presence in our lives?
Earlier in the summer I had noticed the leaning tree and consciously imagined a similar scenario, but put off cutting it down as I figured in would fall on it’s own during a storm when no one was around. If Luke hadn’t noticed the salmon surfacing, ran down the bank, cast out and hooked the fish Troy would likely have been killed.
Lordes felt strongly that her family should go to Tierra Nueva’s service but Boni needed to rep air his truck so he could go to work the next morning. Jose dropped his tools several times while climbing the tree, wondered why, ing his tools from the tree and even says he kept dropping his tools as he climbed the tree, wondered why, but says he kept pushing himself to get the job done even though he was really tired. Peter’s words ring true and inspire me to greater attentiveness.
“The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be therefore sober and watch unto prayer (1 Peter 4:7) and “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brothers who are in the world” (1 Peter 5:8-9).
We give thanks to God that all of these friends are alive and ask you to pray for Boni and Jose’s speedy recovery and for provision for their families.