“YOU JUST GOT YOUR FIRST FISH! HEY, AL, I LOVE YOU. I’M PROUD OF YOU!”
These are the words I heard myself saying to my soon-to-be four year old son Al last Saturday morning, right after he reeled in the first fish of his life. It was a glorious moment and to be honest, totally unexpected. I just wanted to give Al a rod and take him fishing for his birthday. Just taking him was going to be good enough, then he goes and catches a fish in the first ten minutes!
I think I was more excited than Al was, because it wasn’t easy for me to get us to this big moment. I had to fight to get there. I know that last sentence may sound dramatic to some folks. I understand. I’m not thrilled to admit that when it comes to fishing, I don’t know much about it. And when I don’t feel confident about something, I procrastinate or never try at all. Sure, I’ve fished before, going once every 3-4 years, maybe. But I was always with somebody those other times. This time, I’m the one leading the way.
My wife and I came up with the idea for Al’s first fishing trip earlier in the week. It was going to be fun – just me and the boy. I wanted to have all of the gear together, good knots on the hooks for our new rods and a plan of where we’re going before the big morning. I had none of it. I woke up that morning, thinking “We need to do this next Saturday.” I told my wife and could see the disappointment on her face. I was letting the uncertainty of not knowing every step of the way get to me. She picked up on it and began to subtly encourage me, trying not to push too hard. I felt defeated before I ever started.
Then I go to the bathroom. I read the day’s devotion in Jesus Calling while I am taking care of business. I get a call, alright, while I am on the throne…
Listen to Me continually. I have much to communicate to you, so many people and situations in need of prayer. I am training you to set your mind on Me more and more, tuning out distractions through the help of My Spirit.
Walk with Me in holy trust, responding to My initiatives rather than trying to make things fit your plans. I died to set you free, and that includes freedom from compulsive planning. When your mind spins with a multitude of thoughts, you cannot hear My voice. A mind preoccupied with planning pays homage to the idol of control. Turn from this idolatry back to me. Listen to Me and live abundantly!
I was so focused on everything I didn’t have and didn’t know. I almost gave up because I didn’t have it all together. Didn’t have the perfect plan. I should be better than this. Why even try? Shame and Fear. Reading that devotional opened my eyes just enough for hope to start creeping in. Jesus was calling me out of that shame and the fear that hangs out with it. Jesus offered freedom, just like He always does, and I grabbed it and didn’t look back.
To make a long story short, with the help of my patient wife, some guidance from the man at the bait & tackle shop and the game warden at the lake, we found us a couple of fishing holes. Al caught three fish his first time out! Ol’ Dad here didn’t catch any but we came home victorious. I might have been uncertain before, but not anymore. And I’m not stopping either. My daughters are next. My wife and I are going to go by ourselves sometime and once our baby boy gets old enough, he’s going too. I’ve been waiting a long time for this…I’m ready now.
Alan is on the adventure with New 4RMations as a friend, participant, supporter and board member. He experiences all of God’s goodness with his wife and five children. Hear more from Alan on his podcast, Rasslin’ with God.