I am no fisherwoman despite the efforts of the men I know. As a child, I fished with my brothers from a pier. I used sabiki lures to catch the bait fish; they caught the barracuda.
In another instance, my inability to catch trout in a stream drove my uncle nearly insane. The one I finally did catch, someone accidentally dropped back in the stream. Go fish.
I have improved. What I mean is that I haven’t given up. My skills were recently scaled down to size during my brother’s and my New Hampshire trip.
My two second-cousins joined us fishing on Lake Winona (which just happens to be the setting for my second book). They’re now grown up, so the four of us don’t fit in our orange canoe anymore.
Once we had our licenses, Dave and they piled into the canoe, while I went solo in a kayak.
Did you catch that?
Me. Fishing alone. By myself. In a kayak.
No need to panic.
- I had nightcrawlers and am used to pulling them apart. (Sorry if this offends you; it’s just a fishing/food chain reality.)
- I had hooks, and Dave showed me how to string them (the easy way).
- I even had a bobbin, which I successfully put on upside-down, but Dave assured me it would still work that way. It did.
My only fear was that a sunfish would swallow the hook. I drew the line on gouging his throat out to find it.
Hook baited, I cast the line and waited. And waited.
I’ve decided fishing is a spiritual sport. It gives one plenty of time to pray or meditate in silence. At least, it does for me. And that’s when a fishing metaphor dawned.
Something was playing with my line, nibbling on the drowned nightcrawler enough to make my line twinge every few minutes. Or was that me moving my pole? Or was it a fish on my line? Or was my hand getting tired? Or was it the wind?
And then I thought: How similar is my experience when I ask God for a sign?
Oh, you know what I mean. You’ve been there too. We say, “God, if I’m supposed to do this, let this or that happen.” Or, “I’ll know this is your will for my life if such and such comes my way.”
It’s a game we’ve been playing with God since Gideon’s day. “Putting out a fleece” only revealed Gideon’s lack of faith in God and the gracious, patient nature of God Himself.
In Judges 6:16, God promised Gideon that He would be with him and use him single-handedly to defeat the Midianites. However, only a few verses later, Gideon asks God for a sign to confirm what He said.
So Gideon said to God, “If You will save Israel by my hand as You have said— look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that You will save Israel by my hand, as You have said.” And it was so. When he rose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece together, he wrung the dew out of the fleece, a bowlful of water.
Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me, but let me speak just once more: Let me test, I pray, just once more with the fleece; let it now be dry only on the fleece, but on all the ground let there be dew.” And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, but there was dew on all the ground. (Judges 6:36-40, NKJV)
The bottom line is that God had already told Gideon what to do and had promised to be with him, but Gideon didn’t believe what God said.
We can spare ourselves worry and frustration if we simply take Him at His Word.
- God says He will never leave us nor forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:8, Hebrews 13:5)
- God says He loves us with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3, John 3:16)
- God says He works all things together for good (Romans 8:28)
- God says His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9)
- God says He fights for us and pleads our cause (Exodus 14:14, I Samuel 25:39, Psalm 35:1)
Baiting God for a sign hurts us, not Him. We strain and reel and grow weary of wondering if we’re interpreting “the sign” correctly. Did we catch the fish? Should we check the bait? Was that a nibble or nothing? A yes or a no?
The root problem is impatience. God doesn’t answer on our timeline, so we try to manipulate Him to respond sooner. But when we reel in our lines early, we always come up empty.
Patience trusts God’s Word and His time. A seasoned fisherman trusts his experience and instincts, skills not learned overnight but through many long hours on the lake.
Instead of baiting God, try waiting on Him. If we do, we just might reel in a bigger blessing than we ever imagined.