I have not been fishing more than a half dozen times in my life, so I am surely not a world champion fisherman. I do have a lot of friends who fish a lot and I have talked with them considerably about fishing and have learned several things.
It is wonderful to enjoy the fruit of their labors or pleasures. I certainly enjoy when one of them offers us a fine mess of fish. I didn’t have to do a thing to get them and yet I enjoyed them greatly. Probably the most helpful thing that I have learned is that persistence is the key to success in fishing. I have often asked, “Did you catch anything today?” only to hear them say, “No, they weren’t biting today.” That made me wonder one time, “Why do they fish when they don’t catch anything?” I realize that is why it is called “fishing” and not “catching.” There are simply times when the fish are not interested and there will be no catch.
I have noticed something about fishing and it requires more than I realized. There must be planning. No one ever just accidentally goes fishing. One must desire and plan to go fishing. One needs to have good bait and know which bait is best for the kind of fish they hope to catch. Fish are a bit choosy about what they put in their mouths it seems, and the bait that may appeal to one fish may not appeal to another. A fisherman must have some equipment even if it’s just a cane pole, a hook, and a red worm. One must expend some effort to go fishing. One doesn’t just go sit on the bank of a creek or sit in a boat and the fish come and jump into his/her lap. You have to get up and go fishing if you expect to catch fish. A good helping of patience and persistence is required for those days when the fish are not biting. When the day comes that nothing is caught, it can be discouraging but a good fisherman does not quit fishing. A good healthy appetite for fish comes in handy or one is not likely to do much fishing. The feeling of achievement that comes with catching fish is enjoyed immensely.
Have you noticed that the Lord has told us to be fishers of men and not catchers of men? It took me a long time to discover that vital truth. I was measuring everything by the “catch” and assuming that I was a failure or a success depending upon the catch that I did or did not make. But that isn’t true. I am to be a fisherman and God will attend to the catching according to His will and not mine.
This causes me to ask myself some very thoughtful questions. Do I plan to be a fisher of men? Do I have a desire to be a fisher of men? Am I equipping myself to be a fisherman of men with a study of the Scripture? Do I know what kind of bait to use when fishing for men? Do I know where a person stands in his/her relationship with God? Do I know something about their level of knowledge of the Scripture? Am I willing to expend some effort to go fishing for souls? It may not be convenient and it may even interrupt something else which we like to do, but fishing for men may mean the difference in being saved and being lost to some soul including our own. The Lord commanded us to, “Go!” Lost souls are not likely to come to us, but we must go to them. Do I have a persistent spirit and not give up when at first I do not succeed? I will not convert every person that I study with or even get everyone that I approach for a study to study with me. But, if I will not quit, I will find fish that are available for the catch. Is my appetite for fishing for souls as keen as my appetite for my daily bread? When I see a person whom I know is not in Christ, do I see the potential for fishing for that soul? Have I ever known the joy that comes when the catch is made? There is nothing on this earth that compares with that feeling of joy.
Will you consider these things and concentrate on becoming a fisherman for the souls of men? I know that most of us are concerned about the catch and I am one of them; however, there is one thing that I know, we cannot catch if we are not fishing! Remember, if you are not fishing, you are not following.