The Surprise Catch

I just returned from a wonderful and productive fishing trip down in Apalachicola, Florida. How time passes quickly, but the memories will last a lifetime.

My son Caleb and my friend Mark accompanied me on the choppy waters of Apalachicola Bay. The weather was nasty Friday and Saturday, but Sunday opened that needed window of opportunity. The clouds cleared and the temperatures remained in the low to mid-80’s. Our guide, Greg Kembro with Big’Un Charters, took us to the middle of the bay where we anchored for about eight hours.

Over that time period, we caught and kept 120 fish, mainly sand trout and a couple of reef sharks. My friend Mark commented on how he never expected to catch such a variety of fish. The keepers were only a fraction of the fish we actually reeled into the boat. We caught sea trout, speckled trout, reef sharks, blacktip sharks, croakers, whiting, and sail catfish. I found it amazing how Greg knew where to locate all those fish in that immense sea.

On the drive home, I thought about our trip and Mark’s comments. The variety of fish had exceeded my expectations also. Why don’t I come visit this place more often? Then it dawned on me that over the past few days, I had been neglecting another vast ocean–God’s Truths. When a person goes to the beach he usually does two things: he gazes dreamily across the unending waters, and then he joins it and experiences it. I had not been experiencing God’s Word lately.

In my mind, this analogy continued to grow, and it seems–at least to me–that reading and studying God’s Word are a lot like our fishing trip. I know, reading the Bible can seem intimidating–like eating an elephant, drinking from a fire hose or fishing in the ocean. Where do you begin? What is God trying to show me in this verse or that one? How much do you take in at one time? Do I just continue to sit on the beach, or do I jump in?

It’s great to read devotionals where we receive bite-sized chunks of scripture and reflections on those scriptures. It’s convenient to listen to sermons and inspirational books during that long commute to work. These have their place in our busy lives; we must keep our thoughts focused on God each day.

However, if we want to enjoy more blessings and make those surprise catches, we have to hang out a while. Sometimes we have to travel farther distances, keep casting, move to a new spot, or practice patience.  Read longer, study the scriptures more.  Hey, something’s on your line!  Grab a hold of your rod, and reel hard; you may have to fight the big ones into the boat.  Now then, enjoy your reward.

We must also put faith in God’s Spirit, our Guide. If we stick with Him long enough, we will find unexpected lessons surfacing from God’s hidden depths.

So what are you waiting for? Look to the horizon. The waters are calling out to you. Yes, it might get a little choppy, but anchor down. I know you’ll be surprised at what you find.

Please leave some comments on how you hang out in God’s Word. It won’t be the same approach for all of us, but maybe we can learn something from each other.

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6 Responses to The Surprise Catch

  1. dk Levick says:

    Great post Scott. IT’s true the Bible can seem like an ocean to get lost in and you speak of reeling in the rewards. The key is to be able to identify the rewards. Just like you were able to have each different fish pulled from the ocean identified, we need to be able to identify the ‘fish’ that are pulled from the ocean of the word of God. For myself, it was when I compared multiple translations and to use the various Greek and Hebrew concordances that ‘identity’ became clear. Without identity, it can all just be a bucket full of ‘fish’ and we don’t know what’s being offered.

    • Great points, Dwayne! Yes, I like to turn to concordances and one or two commentaries to make sure I understand the meaning of certain words. With our modern translations of the Bible we have often lost the true meaning the author intended.

      But I’ve also noticed that as I spend time in the scriptures, God will seem to highlight passages in my mind that I’ve casually read before. Somehow those passages become more “alive” as I meditate on them, to seek their meaning and application.

  2. Scott, this is a great analogy. Sounds and looks like you guys caught enough to feed the 5,000! For many years, I used the NIV translation. For the last year or so, I’ve switched to the NASB. Not only did I learn that it is a more accurate translation, it has provided a new way for me to see old scripture. Not to mention that I glean a ton by reading John MacArthur’s notes at the bottom for more context.

    • Chris … thanks for the comment. MacArthur is one of my favorite preachers. When I refered to commentaries above, his are one of the few that I trust. I also prefer the NASB and will sometimes take a quick look at the NLV to get a paraphrased view.

  3. susanb says:

    I’m hanging out in Psalms this summer and reading it through 2 lens – 1 – the character of God and 2 – the contrast between the righteous and wicked. I’m also spending more time journaling this summer. Hope you brought back some fish to enjoy on the grill.

    • Psalms is a great place to cast your line. Lots of deep truths to be caught there. I love the idea of journalling. Sometimes we approach scripture as if we are always trying to discover something brand new. We think: I’ve already read the Bible through or already heard that sermon, but Bible study is just as much about meditation as it is finding new stuff. It’s about repetition, being reminded and integration–the integration of God’s principles into our lives to form new habits. God bless you as you read the Psalms this summer!

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