A Tale of Two Fisherfolk

by Barbara Ann Oliver

The man gets up early in the morning, goes down to the bay, tosses his seine out into the water and catches a net full of minnows. He puts them into a tank and sells them to fishermen (and fisher women). The fisher woman gets fifty or so minnows, puts one little minnow on a hook and throws it out into that same bay with the millions and millions of minnows, shrimp, bugs, eggs, and other disgusting delights that only a fish could love. And miracle of miracles, she catches a fish!

Last week, my brother and I went on what will become our annual fishing trip. Just the two of us, or the three of us, if we can get my other brother to go with us. My brother Daryle lives about three hours from the bay off of the Gulf of Mexico, and he has a boat. I have to admit to a little trepidation about boating, but he let me steer during this trip, which helped my confidence quite a bit. Also, he knows I am afraid, so he doesn’t drive it too fast. We fish up in the marshes for red fish, sea trout, flounder, and anything else edible. He even caught a three-foot shark once, which he released. Moral of that story – don’t fall out of the boat!

We had a great time getting sunburned, catching fish, and catching up on old times. We caught 17 “keepers” over the course of three days. On Wednesday, we came home fish-less. Thursday was a good day with a total of 14 fish caught. In a fit of misplaced enthusiasm, I threw the first one back because it was “only” 16 inches long, so we went home with 13 fish, mostly caught by Daryle. Which I can’t understand because we were fishing in the same spot! Silly fish.

On Friday, I caught three fish to Daryle’s zero! Don’t tell him, but I think it is because I was singing my Fishy Song – “Fishy, fishy, fish-y. Fishy, fishy, fish-y.” Hey, don’t laugh! It worked!

It’s funny how fishing has always been such an important part of life. Men still go out in their boats with nets and bring home shrimp, tuna, salmon, crab, lobster, and a variety of other sea creatures.

Funny, also, that miracle of fish-catching. You drop your hook into the water, and somehow there are fish to take the bait. I have to wonder, how does that fish find that one little bait at the end of my fishing line?

Christianity is a lot like that. I guess that is why Jesus called it fishing for men. We think that there is no way anyone will hear the words of faith we drop into that vast sea of attractions and temptations we call the world. How can anyone find the truth with so much “bait” dangling in front of humanity’s face?

Peter, Andrew, James and John were coming home fish-less – until Jesus told them where to cast their nets. That’s the way with fishing – sometimes the fish just aren’t where you are! Jesus knew where the fish were. And he still does!

With Jesus telling us where to cast our nets, how can we go wrong? “Go into all the world” (Mark 16:15). If we do that, we will catch more than we can handle, and we will have to call for our brethren to help us with the harvest! Now that would be a great fish story!

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Barbara A Oliver

Barbara Ann Oliver has worked with the church in Costa Rica for many years and serves as the associate editor for Forthright Magazine.

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