It's a Monday morning when as I write this. I have just received word that one of my good and faithful friends went home to be with Jesus. Grief is something we all face in this life. Even more when someone you loved leaves a vacuum in your soul and shoes that will prove hard to fill. I thank God for the home-going of saints! For to be with the Lord is far better than anything this life can offer! Philippians 1:23
Warren Wiersbe has said, 'God moves (and at time removes) his messengers but the message remains!' How true that is for you and me. And life continues by His grace under His guidance.
It is no coincidence that earlier this morning I read these words from Matthew 24:14. "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come." In current times, many are wondering if the end is near. Truth is the end is nearer than ever before because it's later than it's ever been. Should God give us another day of life, we ought to live it with abounding faith in where we're headed focusing less on where we're at or where we've been. Every day can be filled with rejoicing that He loved us enough to prepare a place for us and bring us home.
If we hope to see His continuing work on this earth being accomplished one soul at a time, we need the resolve of a fisherman. It's not odd that Jesus chose some seasoned fisherman to follow Him. These men had unique qualities that helped them be who God designed them to be. A fisherman possesses important qualities that are necessary in becoming fishers of men. Jesus saw those qualities in Andrew, Simon, James and John. One of those necessary in a good fisherman is persistence. A fisherman must have a 'never give up' attitude. Regardless of the external environment, he is persistent. A good fisherman doesn't get discouraged when the conditions aren't perfect. The same is true with fishers of men. The conditions won't always be just right but for a true fisherman, it's not about the conditions. It's about the catch. As fishers of men, we go where the 'fish' are with the hope of 'catching' a few every time. And most times there will be some sort of obstacle to deal with or navigate through. There are times when your best laid plans get 'tangled up' in the environment you are casting into. And on occasion you lose a good 'lure' in the process. That's why persistence is so critical!
Another quality that's necessary in fishing is patience. The hours spent with the net or the line in the water without much interest from the fish. It's when nothing is seen moving that patience becomes necessary. We don't just reel in our line after one attempt or even an hour of being on the water. The successful fisherman will try different methods, different tackle until he finds one that works best in the current conditions. The same is true of fishers of men. Fishers of souls must be willing to try different methods that best suit the current conditions. We, at First are getting some good life lessons on that approach currently. And we're trusting God to fill His net with those needing rescued from the darkness of the deep.
One other thing that is important for fishers of men is passion. If you've ever hooked a big bass and struggled to land him in the boat only to have the fish dislodge the hook at the last moment, then you know something of the passion of a fisherman. There is nothing that gets a person fired up more than losing one you had longed to catch many times. Losing the one that created so much excitement in your spirit is difficult. That response reveals the true passion of a fisherman. It's similar with those we thought we had secured only to see them 'spit out' when almost to the shore what was designed to reel them in to safety, not death.
As a fisherman, the goal is always to bring something home with you. As a fisher of souls, (a fisher of men), in matters pertaining to salvation and eternity, we exercise persistence, patience and passion because we desire to bring someone home with us. That home is heaven.
I remember the occasions earlier in life when my dad and I would take some liver and go down to the pond south of my parent's house and 'wet' a line. I learned early on that as a fisherman, you must be willing to get your hands and even your shoes dirty because I can guarantee you fishin' will be 'messy'. On occasion you'll get jabbed by a fin! Sometimes, you may even get slapped in the face suddenly with the tail. But what great memories to celebrate when you catch a 'mess' of fish and bring them home!
An older friend of mine, now retired from ministry once told me in matters of seeking souls, "You'll get some you didn't go after because you went after some you didn't get."
There are days when you have your heart set on landing a trophy bass and all you 'hook' for the day is the minnows you used for bait. But even on days when you return from fishin' with an empty sack, a true fisher of men never returns with an empty soul.
Be faithful in your 'fishing'! And may you land a big one for Jesus this week!