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A Whopper of a Fishing Tale

After my two older sisters graduated from high school, family vacations were centered around common hobbies that I shared with my father.  My father usually took most of the month of August off, allowing time to bond with his family.  When I wasn’t off playing golf, several hours were spent in a boat combing Thompson Lake for an ideal fishing location.  The locals would tell stories of a legendary fish, hiding in the numerous caverns at the bottom of this massive lake.  Yet, except for my dad’s recording setting catch of a northern pike and some memorable battles with large bass, nothing of biblical proportions ever developed.

Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said, “And we are coming with you.” So they went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing. As morning was breaking, Jesus [came and] stood on the beach; however, the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. So Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish [to eat along with your bread]?” They answered, “No,” John 21:3-5.

When I entered college, my father planned a few Spring Break trips to the Outer Banks in North Carolina.  A typically week consisted of 3 to 4 rounds of golf with fishing scheduled in the afternoon or early evening.  At dinner the night before of one of our outings, my father overheard someone at the bar talking about blues swimming/running up the coast.  It just so happened that we weren’t scheduled to go golfing so we followed this lead to a fishing pier on the Atlantic Ocean.  The first hour was slow, with one or two bites on the entire pier.  Then, it happened, blue fish after blue fish, like a scene of Jesus feeding the ten thousand, fish kept biting cast after cast.  When our cooler was full, we kept fishing, giving several away to strangers who missed a whooper of a real fishing tale.

And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat (starboard) and you will find some.” So they cast [the net], and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great catch of fish. Then that disciple (John) whom Jesus loved (esteemed) said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer tunic (for he was stripped for work) and threw himself into the sea [and swam ashore]. But the other disciples came in the small boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish, John 21:6-8.

In the last chapter of the four gospels, John records an amazing fishing story where Jesus locates a school of 153 fish that were brought ashore.  Peter spent an entire night trusting in his own abilities, coming up empty, embarrassed to tell Jesus that he had struck out.  Instead of giving up, Peter humbled himself by following Jesus’ advice.  Successful fisherman show the resolve and will to never quit.  The thought of coming back empty wasn’t an option so Peter obeyed Jesus’ instructions.  This passage reveals an important message, when you fail, try, try again.  Those who are remain faithful to God’s calling will reap a harvest similar to a whooper of a fishing tale.

by Jay Mankus

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