Gil Nisleit – First Impressions Director – Gilbert Campus
My two boys, who are 9 and 12, love fishing. When the opportunity arises to grab a pole and bait and head to a lake, they’re all in. All I have to do is say the word “fishing” and they’re already in the car, ready to get to the lake and start casting. There is nothing like watching my boys get a bite on their line and reeling it in like it’s going to be the biggest fish they have ever caught.
Recently, my family and I took a trip up to Pinetop to relax, kayak and fish. My family and I stayed in a cabin that was 25 feet from the water on a private lake, Lake of the Woods. When we arrived, it didn’t take long for my boys to grab their poles and immediately run to the lake and start fishing. They were in a hurry to start the competition of who was going to catch the biggest and most fish. Within five minutes, my oldest son caught his first fish, a one-pound catfish. That led to more catfish and eventually the biggest fish either boys have ever caught, a 12-pound carp. It put up quite a fight and the ruckus caused the kids in the cabin next to us to come out to catch a glimpse of our lake monster. Those kids were the same age as my boys and told us that they’d never caught a fish, even though they’d been fishing as long as my boys had been. The pure joy in their eyes to see not only a fish but a 12-pound fish was priceless. I looked at my boys and said, “Let’s give the pole to them when we get our next fish on the line.” Both my boys both agreed. What happened next was truly a God story.
My oldest son got a bite on his line and set the hook. He then handed his pole to the 9-year-old girl behind him–the one who had never caught a fish in her life. As the fish got closer to the shore, the girl started screaming with excitement, causing everyone in her cabin to run out and witness her catching her first fish. The fish turned out to be enormous at approximately 15 pounds, the biggest fish caught all weekend. It was an incredible moment and the young girl’s family could not believe my son’s kindness in allowing her to experience a once-in-a-lifetime moment. She was overjoyed.
This act of kindness led to something that no one expected–a conversation with their dad, who was curious about the love and kindness my boys had shown toward a stranger. He opened up and shared his own story and his current struggles. I was able to listen and eventually share the hope and love that is found in Christ Jesus.
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”
– Matthew 4:19
Looking at Matthew 4:19, Jesus was asking Peter and Andrew to start fishing for people. Similar to Peter and Andrew, we have a calling to be productive spiritually and fish for souls. We must be living out the teaching of Christ and sharing the gospel to draw others closer to Christ, just as one catches a fish.
“There’s nothing like the adventure of being used by God to contagiously spread His love, truth, and life to other people — people who matter deeply to Him.”
– Bill Hybels
When we show the kindness of God, our actions reveal grace towards others. Sometimes all it takes is one act of kindness to open up a conversation with a stranger that reveals the hope for mankind in Christ Jesus. God desperately wants to connect to people and have an experience with them. We are the primary means by which He does that. By remaining open to opportunities to connect, our path crosses with people and God orchestrates circumstances to accomplish that. In the end, the biggest catch of our trip wasn’t the fish, but the opportunity that led to an unexpected conversation with a stranger.
When it comes to fishing for people, God presents opportunities all the time. So, the next time your camping, at a ballgame, or in line to buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks, remember, it is an opportunity to “Fish.”