“Fish On”

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.  John 21:6

It wasn‘t quite the 153 that the disciples pulled in – but if boat limits allowed, we would have got close! It was certainly a day to remember.

We had ventured out to the Grange Tyre reef off, about 4km offshore to a spot Dad had marked on his GPS to do a bit of fishing with the kids. The anchor was down, the first Gar rig was attached, baited with gents and thrown overboard to drift out behind the boat. I reached for the next rod to set up and Alex yelled, ‘Got one’! Less than 30 seconds in the water and the first Gar was in the esky. For the next two hours, all we heard was ‘Fish on’ as they pulled in garfish after garfish over the side including more double headers than I had ever seen. Dad was on one side, myself on the other taking fish off the hooks, and rebaiting the line to throw out and catch the next one. It seemed that as one fish took the bait, it stirred up the rest and within a few seconds, we would hear the familiar refrain, ‘Got one’. “Me too.” In two hours, we had bagged our boat limit, and added a couple of crabs and Tommy Ruffs too.

Right time…right place….right bait. All we had to do was turn up and throw the lines over and we ended up with a boat full of fish. But here is the amazing thing; the tides weren’t right but we caught plenty anyway. For as we discovered later when cleaning them, there was no food in their belly’s. They were hungry. We just happened to show up at the right time with food and they went for it.

We live in a world where people are empty of hope, starving for purpose and meaning and ready to latch on to whatever dangles in from of them that has a whiff of promise. But not every promise is life-giving. Not every bait will satisfy. Jesus does. He has called us to be fishers of people, but many of us have never caught any fish. Most of the time, it’s because we have never ventured out into the sea to go fishing. Maybe we think we don’t have the right equipment or experience. Maybe we just have too many things on our “to-do” list. Perhaps even, deep down, we are scared that should someone take the bait of the gospel and we actually hook one, that we won’t know what to do with the fish. It could get messy!

If I learnt anything that day, it was that sometimes turning up ready to fish, and being willing to bait the hooks and throw in a line is enough. God will do the rest. So don’t be surprised if the fish start jumping over themselves to get to the hook first! It doesn’t have to be the best time, just God’s time. You already have the right bait. The good news of the Gospel which you have received. The story of how Jesus has been at work in your life, changing you. Who knows, maybe just dangling that story over the edge of the boat will have you yelling out, ‘Fish on!’

To Ponder: How willing are you to turn up and throw the line in the water and bait the hook with the story of God at work in your life? What fishing spot is Jesus calling you to throw out the line in today?

Lord Jesus, fill me with courage today to bait the hook and throw the line in right where I am today, trusting that you know the spots where there will be an abundant catch. Amen.

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