I like to fish. One of the best things about going fishing is not only do I get to catch a whopper, but I get to tell one too! This story, however, happens to be true. Then again, they all start out that way.Once upon a time I was a Sunday School teacher. I was the worldâ€™s worst Sunday School teacher. My class usually consisted of a bunch of hung over teenage boys and girls with excessive hormones. Because we had no classrooms in the Spring and Fall we spent much of our time at a local park about a mile away. There was a pond about two acres in size and we decided it might be fun to take the whole Sunday School fishing. This turned into a great success and somewhere there exists Polaroid snapshots of Andrew, Kate and Bobby Edwards along with many others in an official PUMC â€œFishers of Peopleâ€ certificate.The fishing expedition became an annual event. I was so hoping that I could pass the baton when my own kids were ready to graduate, but that didnâ€™t happen and when it came time in the late Spring of 1999 and I didnâ€™t want to do it! The fateful day finally came — a Sunday morning in late June — the very morning after our kidsâ€™ graduation party. Somewhat hung over, I had to borrow $20 to buy worms to take a bunch of tiny hineys into the woods to a pond where the temperature at 7 a.m. was already 95. I didnâ€™t want to do it!
Our motley little band trekked the quarter mile or so down the path to the mud hole. We must have made quite a sight ranging in age from about 3 to too damn old to be doing this any more. (In case I havenâ€™t made it clear, I really didnâ€™t want to be doing this.) Pastor Jeff, kids, moms, dads, and various helpers plus one grumpy old bald man carried fishing poles, worms, buckets, snacks, tissues, band aids, bug spray and cameras into the wildness.
As the trees separated and the pond came into view a hush came over our brave and valiant band of pilgrims. Somebody else was already fishing in our spot! There before us stood two tall angular anglers with the biggest arrays of shiny, sharp hooks, barbs, poles, lines, shiners, bobbers and various do dads I have ever seen. (We had sticks with string and safety pins.) One look told us these guys were not about to move.
As we flanked our counterparts with all the stealth of Hannibalâ€™s elephants, we came to rest where the bank wasnâ€™t too steep, the thicket wasnâ€™t too dense, and the prickers werenâ€™t too sharp, a mere fifty feet away from the guys who had stolen our preferred fishing spot.
Pastor Jeff said a brief prayer and told the story of how Peter and the other disciples had been out fishing all night without any luck when Jesus suddenly appeared and commanded them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat, where upon to their great surprise they caught a boatload of fish. Story finished, Pastor Jeff wished us luck and beat a hasty retreat with some feeble excuse about needing to deliver a sermon or something. God, I didnâ€™t want to be there!
On my command the worms hit the water. I was prepared for the worst. We spoke not a word to our two unfriendly fishing companions as they starred menacingly back and forth between the noisy commotion and confusion of our side and their limp, lifeless, lines.
Suddenly I heard a scream, â€œI got one!â€ then another, â€œI got one, too!â€ Then another, and another. Weâ€™d hit the mother load and I was surrounded by dangling blue gills. The kids caught big fish, small fish, short fish, tall fish, and all sizes in between.
Meanwhile, fifty feet away, nothing, nada, zilch, zippo. The dynamic duo (not!) realized they had been had by a Sunday School class, and after a while abandoned the premises.
If you have ever been hit in the head with a 2 x 4 you would know how I felt when I realized why God had put me there. Cast your lines on the other side of the pond and you will be rewarded. All you got to do is trust.
Jonah and the whale have nothing on this fish story, and if you believe this one, let me tell you about the time our church softball team was beaten by a bunch of 11 year old girls.