A few years ago, I went through all the printed photos that I had stored in various boxes around the house. As I was trying to organize theses photos according to age and place where the pictures were taken, my kids started going through the piles. They enjoyed laughing at how we looked, what we were wearing, and what we were doing. I was returning photos to the place in the books where they had taken pictures to school or needed for projects. As I began to sort, I came across photos of my family my children had never seen before.
One picture in particular gave me such a flood of emotions. During my childhood, I would spend a few weeks every summer at my grandparent’s lake house on Lake of the Ozarks. My grandfather was an avid fisherman. We would wake up early every morning to go fishing for catfish before the days would get too hot. He was so patient teaching my brother and I all about fishing. He taught us about the proper fishing equipment, which lure to use the for the different kinds of fish, and how to determine the settings for the depth of water. He also taught us how to hold the fish just right so we would not get stabbed by the fin. After the cage was full of fish, he would clean, debone, and fillet them for my grandmother. Oh, I can still taste the fish she fried up for us!
Picture this snapshot. My brother and I on a boat dock wearing a striped life jacket, each of us holding our own fishing pole with a fish on the end. We were so proud of what we’ve accomplished! Now, here’s the story behind the picture. Every summer, my grandfather would try to keep my brother and I busy and out of his workshop, so he designed a competition. This particular summer our goal was to catch the smallest fish. The prize was all the money he kept in his squeezable coin purse. The amount was probably not more than a dollar, but, to us, it felt a million dollars! We would fish for hours off the dock for that special prized fish. I still have such vivid, fun, and enjoyable memories of that place. I go through a lot of emotions when thinking about these memories.
Why the emotions? After my grandfather passed and the house was sold, all my brother wanted was my grandfather’s lures. My brother struggled with things in his life, so this possession brought him such happy memories of family. Today, these lures and picture are in a shadow box in my house, which I got after my brother passed away. Oh, the emotions, wanting to see both of them again and the fun memories of times past. Henry David Thoreau said,
“Many men go fishing, all of their lives without knowing it is not fish they are after.”
I so desire having one more fishing trip with them again!
Even now I am still impacted by my grandfather and memories of fishing with him. A few years ago, I went fishing in the Grand Tetons. I hadn’t fished since my childhood and I was so afraid I would not remember how to cast, reel in, or hold the fish. I guess I was afraid of disappointing my Grandfather. He was the one who taught me how to fish and I wanted to honor his memory.
That day the Lord reminded me that he had taught his disciples through fishing. In Luke 5:1-11, Jesus, Immanuel in the flesh, is teaching the crowd from a boat on the Lake of Gennesaret. After teaching, he commands Simon to go deeper and let down his nets. Simon was tired and had fished all night catching nothing. Simon relents and cast his net overboard one more time. By the time he was finished fishing, his nets were breaking, and he needed help from another boat to keep from sinking. Simon asked the Lord to go away since he was a sinful man. But, the Lord told him,
“Don’t be afraid: from now on you will fish for people.”
Again, in Matthew 4:19 Jesus gives the commands to his disciples,
“Come follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people.”
I can visually and emotionally picture this scene. Don’t you love the snapshot of the Lord providing Simon an opportunity for belief, obedience, and trust? Furthermore, the Lord called him to the ministry and his life changed all in one snapshot. John MacArthur explains that the Divine Fisherman had come to work on the hearts of these men to reveal he was the “source of truth, omniscience, omnipotence, holy and full of mercy.”
Another instance of Jesus teaching through fishing is found in John 21. After Jesus had been resurrected, he appears to the disciples who had fished all night and, again, caught nothing. Early in the morning from the shore, Jesus tells the disciples to cast their nets to the right side of the boat. Again, their nets were filled with an abundance of fish! The disciples realized that it was the Lord who provided. Jesus then met them on the shore with a fire of fish and bread. The Resurrected Lord was revealing his deity and messiahship to these broken, weak, rejected, and marred men. These men who were returning to the comforts of their old lives were now in the presence of the resurrected Christ. During this snapshot, the disciples were given a restoring opportunity to have a final meal and word with Jesus
According to Eudora Welty,
“A Good snapshot keeps a moment from running away.”
Today, Facebook reminds us of memories from years past in hopes that we reshare the moment. Social media has become a camera to our lives. I appreciate the daily reminder. However, do I stop to reflect of those special moments the Lord has created for me? Am I cherishing these designed snapshots of life or am I too busy, tired, distracted, or unaware to recognize His provisions for restoration?
I love the way Lifeway described a snapshot in its VBS material a few years ago:
“Every encounter is like a snapshot—it’s a specific moment in time captured on the pages of Scripture. And when put together, these isolated encounters reveal the most amazing truth of all—Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing we can have life in His name.”
This description has me wondering, am I prepared to have a snapshot encounter with the Lord today? Like my brother, I desire to experience the love, joy, and connection with my Loving Savior. One day soon I will see the One who was, is, and is to come.
Women’s Ministry Leader