Topic: Faith & Action
Author: Dan Ely (Biologist & Fish Whisperer)
I was so excited to go on the long awaited deep sea fishing trip to Acapulco, Mexico. I could hardly sleep as I lay in bed waiting to get up with the sun and board our charter fishing boat with my best friend from high school. The morning was drenched in sunshine with a warm tropical breeze blowing. We jumped out of bed, put on our army camo, ate a muffin and juice, and hopped in our jeep to head for the dock. When we arrived, the wind had picked up and clouds were rolling in. The captain said maybe we should not go out because it was so windy that the boat would rock a lot, we may get sick, and the fishing may not be good.
My friend and I decided we would risk it and go for the big fish- the beautiful sailfish of the Acapulco waters. As we traveled to the fishing spot, the captain said to keep our heads up and focus on the horizon, which reduces the chances of getting sea-sick; so we listened and followed instructions.
We were so thrilled to be on the gorgeous turquoise-blue water with the wind blowing in our faces and the adventure of maybe catching a big sailfish. The captain said we needed to be prepared for rough water and maybe some rain. The bait we used was called a mullet fish which is one of the best bait fishes to use for deep sea fishing. The crew mate opened up a dead mullet, put a hook inside, attached it to our fishing line, and then sewed up the bait fish. We trolled it behind the boat and let out 300-400 yards of line. We strapped ourselves in a swivel seat and patiently waited.
After 2 hrs with no bites, we were losing hope. But just then my best friend got a hit and it pulled the line hard and the fight was on! The captain said to keep the fishing rod tip up and don’t stop reeling. After 30 min of fighting and watching the sailfish leap out of the water trying to shake the hook, it was within 10 yards of the boat and you could see its beautiful florescent blue sail and large bill. Then the sailfish turned and jumped out of the water and swam rapidly 400 yards away again. My friend’s hands and arms were exhausted, and now all the reeling had to be repeated.
After 20 min the sailfish was next to the boat again and we took pictures. Now it was almost time to return to the dock and I was getting disappointed since I had no bites and didn’t want my friend to “outfish” me! Before we had to return, I hooked up with a sailfish and had a great fight and after 30 min of reeling I had it next to the boat for a picture and it was even bigger than the first one! We released the beauty and it rapidly swam away. What a great day and fun end to an exciting adventure. Oh, by the way my best friend was my wife, Linda, and it was our honeymoon!!
So what does this have to do with my faith? It illustrates some fishing principles that I have learned over the years: listening, being prepared, taking risks, and sharing my faith.
On our fishing trip we listened to the captain about instructions to focus on the horizon to reduce the chances of getting sick and we listened to his advice to keep the fishing rod tip up. I remember the story when Jesus was talking to the disciples that were fishing on a boat and they had fished all night with no success and he told them to try another spot, they listened and their nets nearly burst with all the fish! (John 21:6)
Listening is so hard to do in this multi-tasking world, but I found it is important for me to take the time to listen to what God says through the Word, leaders and friends. I can truly say that throughout my life as I listened more to Him than the world, I found trust and peace in the midst of rough seas.
We were ready for a fishing expedition with proper gear, boots, good equipment and a captain who knew where to go and what to do. Likewise, when you share your faith you need to be prepared. Knowing Jesus is a big help, knowing what the Bible says is important, being able to explain the message of God’s love, and putting your faith into action.
At first, I did not understand what it meant to put my faith into action. As I grew in my faith, my best friend showed me what it meant to put action to my faith. For example, I observed her as a Christian youth leader helping other teens with difficult issues and helping them make good decisions. She spoke out for what was right and risked her own popularity to stand up for a friend. Nothing I read or heard was as powerful as watching her faith in action. She said it was not about her but about Jesus. You may not even say a word at the time but those around you will observe your behavior.
- “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” -James 2:14-17
The captain said maybe we should not go out because of big waves and a potential storm but we took the risk and went. We had come a long way to catch a sailfish so we decided we would take the risk of getting sick and wet but hopefully it would be worth it. If we had not taken the risk, we would not have received the benefits of catching a sailfish and have fish stories to tell the rest of our lives.
Sometimes, we need to take a risk with our faith and get out of our comfort zone. When we risk sharing our faith with others we may never know the outcome but trust that God will use it. Maybe the risk is inviting a friend to youth group, a ball game, a concert, to the mall or to a show. Sometimes the risk could be to share with a friend that you go to church or believe in Christ. Other times the risk may be to say “no” to an invitation to do something that you don’t think is right and risk your popularity. The risk could be telling someone close to you about a major issue in your life. Ask God for courage, strength, & wisdom as you take risks with your faith and trust Jesus that it is worth the risk.
Catch and Release
In fishing terms to be eco-friendly and insure there will continue to be fish for others to enjoy there is a term called “catch and release”. The idea being you can have the fun of fishing but by returning the fish to the water they can reproduce more.
The first time I went fishing I was 8 and was with my mother Kate and grandmother Ruth on a small lake in Michigan. As I became a teenager I would ride my bike with my buddies down to the breakwater on the Pacific Ocean and spend the day catching mackerel, bonita, red snapper and sharks. I taught my son Larry to fish at a very young age and he taught his two sons, Devon and Dray to fish.
Our family has a developed a legacy of fishing & faith. Five generations have learned to enjoy the fun of fishing as well as sharing our faith. Sometimes, the hardest part of sharing is getting started. Fishing & fishing stories can be used to start conversations. Young and old can go fishing & tell fun fish stories and that can be used to break the ice and eventually share your faith.
- “Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed him.” -Matthew 4:19-20
My prayer for you is this… Go fish! Listen to God, be prepared, take a risk, pass on your faith, and have fun! This week’s challenge: take a friend fishing or use a fishing story to share your faith.
Text: © 2017 LCC- F.R.O.G. Youth Ministry. Used with author’s permission * Image: © google free use license