Fishing trips with my dad and brothers growing up always excited me. I remember Saturday mornings Dad would holler for us four boys in one room to get up. He would be singing at the top of his lungs, “Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to work we go!” and whistling. He was a good whistler.
Mom would have eggs and bacon or pancakes and sausage cooking, sometimes with biscuits and gravy. The aroma would find its way from the kitchen through our small house to our back bedroom, helping us jump out of bed all the quicker.
Dad would take us on these fishing trips often. We would go to places in Stone and Taney counties of southwest Missouri like Aunts Creek, Buzzard, James River, and Stone’s. Dad liked to fish for Crappie, Bass, Walleye and Catfish. I spent most of my time untangling my line or pulling my hook out of a tree limb.
I can’t remember where we were fishing one time, but I do remember I was only about five years old. Dave would have been only two, so it was just myself, my two older brothers, Perry and Mike, and Dad fishing. We were about to leave from the lake when I snagged something very large on my worm. I remember trying to reel the fish in, but the beast slowly began pulling me toward the edge of the bank.
Dad started laughing watching my struggle. “Pull slow! Keep reeling!” He yelled through his laughter. I could only hang on for dear life. Finally, Dad grabbed the rod from my hand and reeled in a large carp, a fish he hated. Carp is not good to eat unless you know how to prepare it. They have lots of bones. Dad unhooked the fish and threw it on the ground.
“Aren’t you going to put it back in the water?” I asked, still shaking from my encounter.
“No, those fish are worthless,” Dad said. We walked toward the truck. I looked back at my trophy fish, flopping on the bank, and remember feeling sad, but also proud I landed a big fish with my dad’s help.
The memory reminds me this morning of my heavenly father. Just as my dad encouraged me to reel in the fish but was there to help me when it became too much, I have a heavenly father who has been with me through all my years of struggle and triumph. There have been times that life has become too heavy, and I’ve faltered. During those times looking back I know God grabbed the rod and took my burden on Himself. Jesus did that for all of us on the cross in history over 2,000 years ago.
Are there weights in your life you are trying to carry that are wearing you out? Guilt, bitterness, worry, or regret? Are you in a struggling marriage, a strained relationship with your parents or kids, fatigue over a job or school? Are you lonely, feel misunderstood or not known, burdened by a past or fear over your future?
Know that the God who made you and I loves us all with a never-ending compassion. He’s there to help reel in any fear or doubt, worry and regret. Let him take the rod.
Howard Hendricks has a great quote. “When I try, I fail, but when I trust, HE succeeds.”
I pray you can let go of your own control of life today and allow God to help navigate life with and through you. Jesus said, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Of course, the next time you are fishing, and you land a big one, keep reeling! There’s a lesson there too!