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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

The Missing Piece to a Puzzle

As a child, my parents chose Thompson Lake, Maine as the spot for our family vacation.  Every August for a decade, my father took any where from one to three weeks off to reconnect with family.  Before this trip, my mom or dad picked up a large jigsaw puzzle, usually between 5000 and 10000 pieces.  These puzzles became a family tradition to complete on cold and rainy days or uneventful evenings.  Without a television to distract us, corners were completed first, then the hard part began.  Filling in grass, mountains, the sky or water was an endless pursuit of trial and error, trying to see if nearly identical pieces would fit.  When this tough stretch was completed, anticipation grew as pieces were put in place fast and furious.  Unfortunately, there were a couple of puzzles that any came with 4999 and 9999, missing the final piece to the puzzle.  Despite a fervent search of the floor, nothing was uncovered, leaving a bitter taste of disappointment.

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?” – Luke 15:8

The idea that puzzles intertwines with life has some traction.  Sometimes individuals find themselves faced with a difficult decision, a dilemma or struggling to grasp why something they want has not been granted.  The reason behind earthly trials isn’t usually known at the time you go through it, yet time has a way of revealing answers to unsolved mysteries.  During these periods of uncertainty, I often feel like a missing piece to a puzzle.  The only problem is every time I think I’ve found exactly where I think I fit in life, I discover that my gifts, skill set or talents don’t match, unable to complete the puzzle.  At this point, there is a temptation to betray your true identity by asking others, “who do you want me to become?”

All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines, 1 Corinthians 12:11.

The apostle Paul refers to a church as a body with many parts.  Similar to a jigsaw puzzle, it takes time to figure who you should connect with and what role best suits your personality.  If you take 1 Corinthians 12 literally, local churches are like unfinished jigsaw puzzles waiting for the right individual to come and serve.  Unfortunately, a growing mindset of what’s in it for me is preventing couples or families from taking a leap of faith.  Anyone burned by past negative experiences are gun shy, afraid of reliving the pain of broken relationships.  In the end, each person possesses unique gifts or talents no one else can offer.  Yet, free will is designed to allow you to get involved when your ready.  Therefore, if this blog finds you struggling to fit in, may the Holy Spirit lead you to complete another church, puzzle or soul.

by Jay Mankus

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