"I can get you to where the fish are, but I can't catch them for you!" That pretty much sums up my day last Saturday. I had been invited, last minute, to be part of a bass tournament being put on by Fishers of Men, a Christian Sportsman's group in Redding that began as a Neighborhood Church iGroup. This particular tournament was special, because it was free to all Redding pastors, and was being offered in honor of "Pastors Appreciation Month." A trophy was to be given to the church whose pastor, partnered up with a bass pro, had the heaviest catch (5 fish limit) at the end of the day, as well as a brand new fishing rod and reel. And I wanted that rod and reel.
But many hours and very few fish later (the absolute worst fishing performance of my life), I was forced to consider the very possibility I was casting so frantically to avoid -- I might just be a lousy fisherman. The facts seemed to confirm this; I was using the equipment of my pro-partner, fishing with the same lures, and, obviously, was fishing in the same areas (we were on the same boat). And yet -- he was the only one catching fish. Yes, he was a pro. And yes, he had the practice and experience. But for goodness sakes, I've caught more fish in my bathtub than I caught that day. It was really, really humbling, and it eventually prompted the good-humored comment mentioned above -- "...I can't catch them for you!"
Many Christians feel ashamed about their "Christian performance" on those days that come between Sundays, whether it has to do with inconsistency in their daily devotional life or the fear of sharing their faith. I'm also willing to bet that many of you also have an accusing "head voice" that continually whispers a similar version of my own reflective torment -- "I can get you to where the fish are, but I can't catch them for you! You have all the tools you need to be a good Christian, so why aren't you performing?"
Do you remember that familiar "Footprints" poem? The same message applies here. You are not the only fisherman in the boat -- there's a pro in there with you. At the end of the day last Saturday, although I never caught anything even worth putting in a fish tank, we ended up winning the tournament -- because the pro actually did catch the fish we needed to win -- for me. The annual "Best Fishing Church in Redding" trophy now belongs to Neighborhood, and the rod and reel belong to me (hurrah!). I told someone it's the nicest gift I ever got for completely relying on someone else in order to win -- and that's the point. Fish on!
"It is God who works in you to will (desire, want to) and to do (the power to do it!) His good will." Phil. 2:13