By K.J. Houtman
“Get the net,” I called to Jim. “This is a nice one!”
He didn’t move; didn’t flinch a muscle; didn’t believe me! Husbands … !
My time at the end of the dock during the summer months in Minnesota are my quiet time—alone and away from everything else going on around the house or family. Usually, if anyone else is at home at that time, they just leave me alone to fish quietly by myself. More often than not, I don’t catch anything worth getting excited about. Certainly not something I need a net man for—until that night.
“I’m not kidding,” I prompted.
When Jim finally looked up, he saw me really fighting the fish and caught a glimpse of what I was battling when the 9-pound Northern broke the surface. Convinced at last, Jim ran for the net and helped me land the brute. While it wasn’t the largest fish of my life, it remains to this day the largest I’ve caught off the end of our dock.
This is one of my favorite ways to fish these days. I know, I know. It may sound awfully mundane and simple, but it sure is appealing–especially right now, as real winter threatens to consume all of March and a big chunk of April here in the North Country.
Its sheer simplicity is a great portion of the appeal. No fancy boat. No GPS waypoints or high-tech electronics. Rarely do I take big outings or travel to fish now that I’m no longer managing professional fishing tournaments. My favorite time and place is simply the end of our dock when the sun is glistening at the end of the day, setting off to the west. Some days it is golden, others it’s orange. Sometimes the setting hue is red or even purple. Late in the day is the time, in particular, that calls me to wet a line. But it isn’t freezer fodder for which I travel the whole 48 feet; I have found a beautiful way to pray with each cast.
I start with each cast being an attribute of God. Creator. Sovereign Ruler. All-knowing. All-powerful. Healer. Atoning Sacrifice. With each cast I expand on my understanding, small as it is, of our amazing and wonderful God, and all that God … well … is. And He is and always will be those things, regardless of whether I state them or not. But as I form each word (silently, I don’t need the neighbors thinking I’m loony, right?) it centers me in a way that no other does.
When I feel like I’ve exhausted what I could say ‘about’ God ‘to’ God, I switch it up. And quite literally, will often take that moment to switch lures. As I send my new lure away, I think of something in my life that both God and I would rather have gone. Rid of. Sayonara. Outta here.
Let’s say … anxiety. “Plop” goes the lure as I envision anxiety dropping to the depths of the lake. Then I reel in the opposite, the thing I surely do need with God’s help: peace. And the next cast might be financial worries; I reel in provision. Headache: health. Profanity: godliness. Gossip: kindness. Anger: forgiveness. And on and on … focusing during this time of prayer and meditation, on the ways I need God and God’s fruit of the Spirit in my life.
Sometimes, as I cast and think of what I need to be rid of, it hits me like a ton of bricks. It is big! I may not have consciously realized how big it was for me. Let’s say … worry. And so I stay with “worry” for a few casts, for I need not hurry away, until the peace for which I long arrives. And then … on to the next.
Lastly, I move to intercessory prayer. As I cast now, perhaps with a topwater bait, with each cast I name a person. As I reel in, I pray for their situation. It might be a friend or a family member who is having health challenges; or the dear friend, now a widow, grieving the loss of her husband. All the people that ask you for prayers? Here’s where you fulfill! That Facebook friend’s mom who’s going through cancer. Or the little baby in intensive care at the hospital. Those closest to you. Those in faraway lands that we hear on the news have earthquakes, tsunami or tornadoes.
An hour disappears in moments. Did I catch any fish? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. But even on the days that there isn’t provision for the freezer, there is provision for my soul.
Today I will take opportunities to pray as I go about my day. Doing ordinary things, yet contemplating the awesomeness of our Creator God and his Divine Plan for the world. Remembering the things that I need to work on and let go of, and remembering others and all the challenges they are going through.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (1 Peter 5: 6-7).
K.J. Houtman is the author and publisher of Fish On Kids Books—chapter books for kids who enjoy fishing, camping and hunting. If you’d like to enjoy more of Houtman’s work, visit the Fish On Kids Books site at: http://fishonkidsbooks.com/ChapterBooksKidsFishHunt.html.