Lessons from a Fishing Boat
- Sunday, September 22, 2002
A few years ago, my friend convinced me to go on a little fishing expedition with him and a few other guys. We went out and started getting a few bites, a little tug here and there. All of a sudden, I got a tug on my pole that was so hard, it almost was pulled out of my hands. My entire pole was bending as I tried to bring it in. Our guide got a look at the fish and told us it was a 65-pounder. But just as he got ready to net it, the fish broke loose and swam off. I didn't get any more bites for the rest of the day.
That's the way it goes with fishing. Some days they bite, and some days they don't. If you ever have gone fishing, then you know what it's like to go out for hours and catch absolutely nothing.
We can find some useful parallels between fishing and sharing our faith. Jesus told Simon Peter, James, and John, "From now on, you will catch men" (Luke 5:10). God wants to use us as well. We are all called to go fishing in the sea of life. God has called us all to go fishing for people, and there are several distinguishing qualities of a good fisherman that also are true of a good evangelist.
The first quality of a good fisherman is patience. If you want to be a fisher of men and women, if you want to win people to Christ, then you must be patient. It takes time to catch fish, and it takes time to see people come to faith.
To borrow another analogy, the Bible says that there is time to sow and a time to reap (Ecclesiastes 3:2). Stressing the importance of that, Paul said, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase." (1 Corinthians 3:6).
Every time you share the gospel, you are sowing seed in a person's life. Sometimes, God will lead you to sow a seed, while at other times, He will have you water a seed that someone else has sown. Or, maybe He will give you the privilege of reaping. But you must be patient, because some people don't believe as quickly as we would like them to.
Second, a good fisherman must persevere. If the fish are not biting in one place, then you go to another. If they are not biting there, then you go back to the old place again. The point is to keep at it. There are days you will go out and not get a bite, and there are days when the fish will practically jump into your boat. You never know when it will happen.
Third, a good fisherman has a good instinct for going to the right place and dropping the net at the right time. In other words, you must be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Suddenly a conversation or a situation may turn in a certain direction. You begin to share your faith. Someone is open to what you have to say. This is the time to drop the net, so to speak. You then have the privilege of leading a person into the kingdom of God. It is the greatest privilege God has given to us.
Fourth, a good fisherman has skill. A fisherman uses rods, reels, nets, and various tools to bring in the fish. Our tools are not rods and reels or hooks and nets. Our tools are the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit. We need to know what we are doing. This will come through experience as we learn the Word of God so we can share it with people, and God said that His Word would not return void (Isaiah 55:11).
Fifth, good fishermen know how to work together. Have you noticed that Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs? Cooperation is a key to effectively sharing your faith, because while one person is sharing, another can be praying.
What happened when Peter, James, and John went out fishing on their own? They caught nothing. Why? They were going out in their own ability and trying to make something happen. They needed Jesus there to guide and direct them. After He came aboard Peter's little boat, everything changed for them. The same can happen for you.
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