How Fishing is Like the Christian Life

Ever wonder why Jesus used fishing in so many of his parables and analogies? He could have chosen donkeys or carpentry, but he stuck with fishing, again and again.  Of course, it has something to do with his audience (those disciples were devoted fishermen), but I think it has more to do with the fact that fishing naturally lends itself to comparison with Christianity.

amy wader fish webStanding on the river bank, throwing my line in the water, I can’t help but draw some biblical allusions.  Last weekend, we went fishing for salmon at our favorite spot up in BC.  And there’s nothing like a day of fishing to award you some clarity of mind.

As I patiently cast the line, time and time again, sometimes coming up with nothing, sometimes getting a fish on, only to lose it, and sometimes bringing it safely to shore, I recognized how perseverance plays such a large role in fishing and in the Christian life.  After 20 unsuccessful casts, I could have given up and stopped throwing that line in, but I knew that success often came at the 50th cast.

And Paul tells us to have the same attitude in prayer.  Even if we can’t see our prayers being answered, even if we’re tired of praying the same things time and time again, we need to persist, ”praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.  To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18). God promises to hear and answer our prayers (even if that answer is “no”), but the whole point is that we keep praying, to change us, to intercede for others, and to glorify God.

amy hold fish webJesus also recognized the connection between fishing and evangelism.  We are to become “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).  But fishing isn’t as simple as dropping a worm on a hook in the water.  There are a lot of different types of fish out there, and they all require different tie-ups.  Last weekend, I was fishing for three different types of salmon. The humpies (pinks) seemed to prefer pink colored yarn and beads (2 small ones) with a black hook.  And the Chum (dogs) liked either green or purple tie-ups.  The Coho (silvers) were the trickiest to catch, and I managed to land a 10 pound fish on a Chum tie-up.  But they’re supposed to bite on silver lures.

As with fish, it is with people.  When we’re reaching out to young people, we’ve got to use a different “lure” than when we’re reaching out to baby boomers.  They all have different tastes.  Now, there will be times that one message will cross over between people groups, like when my silver chomped down on my humpy tie-up.  But for the most part, it’s good to know your audience and tailor your words to suit them (while sticking to the Truth and the fishery rules).  This takes discernment and wisdom.  Standing on a street corner, waving a sign about the coming apocalypse might catch a few people, but for the most part, it’s not going to work for everyone else.

On, and the same tie-up won’t necessarily work two days in a row, or different hours in the day for that matter.  The clouds will change the color of the water and its reflective abilities, so it’s often wise to try another tie-up if clouds roll in on an otherwise sunny day.  These variations make fishing challenging, but they also bring excitement and the thrill of a challenge.  And when we’re out to catch people, to tell them the good news about the Truth of the gospel, what worked one day might not work as well on another.  If people are in a season of suffering or they’re living on cloud nine, you need to take that into account.

I think I’ll end my fish tales here today, but this is a theme I’ll likely revisit.  Spending more time on the river will doubtless yield more insight and comparisons.

Maybe some other fishermen and fisherwomen have similar analogies to share with me.  I’d love to hear them!


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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Even if you are called to be a fisherman of men, it is always wise to bait the hook properly.

    AL: well said!

  2. I have nothing to share at this time – I just wanted to say how VERY much I needed to hear this today. So thanks for posting it.

    AL: Thanks for letting me know Carrie. It’s a great encouragement to me!

  3. I’ll send this link along to Mr. B.
    My current favorite saying concerning fishing:

    “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.
    Teach a man to fish and you won’t be seeing much of him any more.”

    Re: Kale on your twitter.
    Bon Appetite mag had a three page article about kale worship. “Life changing” I think was the author called kale.

    Yes, the does economy stinks…and just you wait to see what it will feel like around our great nation once we start getting the tax bill underwriting all the “change” that has happened recently.

    As always, a wealth of info! Loved the Kale article. Made me a little less scared about trying it out. I’m thinking either a soup or the very simple method on the stovetop with some chicken broth.

    And the economy. Oh, I’m so saddened about the state of our country right now. I visited a couple local small businesses yesterday and was heartbroken at what I found there (downsizing, no customers). And so many of my friends are out of work. The really sad part is that there’s no cure in sight. It’s time to pray for our country, in a big way.

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