Nestled between mountainous islands on the southeast coast of Alaska are some of the best waters in the world for catching salmon . . . big salmon . . . king salmon. Every summer, thousands of people are drawn to these cold Alaskan waters to fish for these living trophies as tourists, or to bring in their delicious meat for sale as professional fishermen. Five years ago, I was among the thousands hoping to draw from the depths of the sea a few of these famous fish.
If you have never fished for king salmon on a guided tour, let me explain for you the process I went through. First of all, I got up every morning and put on a bunch of gear. I am a guy . . . I love gear . . . so this was one of my favorite times of the day. The lodge we were staying at supplied neoprene waterproof overalls to wear over your clothes, and I had brought a Goretex Bass Pro Shop jacket to put over the top. I topped off this ensemble with a pair of lodge provided boots that I wondered if fishing great Jimmy Houston had ever worn. In my own mind at least I looked the part. In truth, this elaborate costume was really designed to camouflage the fact that I know nothing about fishing. Nothing, zero, zilch, nada. So there I was, wearing my gear, and walking down to the boat that would transport my friend and I out onto the ocean for a day of fishing, scared to death that I would be exposed as an imposter in fisher’s clothing.
When I got to the boat, however, I was relieved to find out that Kenny, our trusted fishing guide, would really be doing all the fishing. (NOTE: This was good news to me, but it keeps me humble . . . when I talk about the 100 pounds of fish I caught in four days, I really have to use a lower case “i”.) Kenny drove the boat to the right spot. Kenny put the bait on the hook. Kenny put the weights on the lines to drop them to the precise depth where Mr. King lived. Kenny trolled along at just the right pace to make my frozen fish bait look alive. When a fish bit the bait, Kenny would even set the hook before asking me to reel it in. In the end though, I got to play a key part in the process, and got to be used by Kenny to bring in more than a few big catches. In the end, it was not my gear that caught anything. It was not my know how that brought in a salmon. It was not my strength that landed the fish. It was Kenny fishing through me, that put the fish in the boat . . . yet I am so thankful for the part I got to play and my freezer was full of salmon steaks, a visual reminder of Kenny’s handiwork.
I tell you this story today to make a deeper spiritual point. Jesus was walking along the shore one day when He looked over at two guys and said, “Follow Me, and I’ll make you fishers of men.” This occurs in Mark 1:17. You know what happens in the next 15 chapters of Mark? These same two guys, along with ten of their friends and fellow followers attempt to get all dressed up in the “gear” they think they need to wear to make an impact for Christ. When it came to knowing something about starting a worldwide movement that would change the face of human history, these guys knew nothing, zero, zilch, nada. So they attempted to camouflage their inadequacy with spiritual lingo they heard other people say (read Kingdom), and aspirations of power they hoped to keep (read comments like “Who is the greatest”). What Jesus did in their lives over the next 15 chapters was take them on one gigantic “fishing trip” where they would learn a truth that would change their lives forever. What is this truth? Simple: Jesus would be doing all the fishing. Like our trusted guide Kenny, Jesus wanted them to find out that He knew where the people were who would respond to the Gospel message. He wanted them to know that He was the one who would make their lives attractive and unique to those who do not know Christ. He wanted them to know that He was the one who could weight a conversation to take it to depths well below the surface to the deeper issues of life. He wanted them to know that He was the one who would draw men and women to Himself. This was great news for the disciples, and it would also keep them humble about the movement “they” were about to start. The amazing thing, though, was that even though Jesus was doing all the fishing, He still wanted them to play a vital part in the process and even get to be a part of the most fun part, seeing the “fish” come into the boat!
I share all this with you today to remind you of a very important verse. Hebrews 13:8 says this, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” The same Jesus who was walking the shores of Palestine asking two fishermen to be “fishers of men” is calling out to you and me today with a similar offer. Jesus Christ is asking you and me to play a part in taking His saving Gospel to a dying world. Now before you go and think that you have to clothe yourself in all sorts of gear comprised of Christian lingo, seminary degrees, and evangelism workshops . . . and before you start thinking that the amount of knowledge in your brain or strength of your back will lead to mass conversions . . . and before you start to think that this is all about you, remember this: Jesus is going to do all the fishing! It is Christ in you who will guide you to the people He wants you to interact with. It is Christ in you who will weight your conversations and take them to deeper levels. It is Christ in you who will draw men and women into a relationship with Him. He is our “Fishing Guide,” yet He graciously offers us the opportunity to reel in people who are responding to His message.
Take courage. Jesus Christ is fishing in the waters around your life. By faith, take advantage of the opportunities you are given to share His gospel with others. Keep your bait in the water and watch as your life becomes filled with Jesus’ handiwork.
Join us Sunday at Wildwood as we continue our series entitled, “Don’t Forget to Fish” as we look deeper at how our lives can make an impact for Him. See you Sunday!