I don't do a lot of fishing (read: I don't fish), but God loves a good fishing metaphor and I've been out once or twice in my life, so here we go:
I was thinking about this last night as I thought about faith and risk, as I considered what I'm putting on the line for the chance to become all that God has created me to be. That's where it hit me - what's on the line?
Here's a bit of a fishing primer. When one goes fishing, one takes some type of bait. This is often worms, although it could also be crickets or artificial lookalikes of worms or crickets or even home-tied flies (which are not like real flies at all). You take this bait, attach it to a hook (I'm not sure how the flies work), and cast it into the water on the end of a long pole. Then you wait until something tugs at the bait, assume it's a fish, and pull in your line. If, after awhile, there is no bite, you pull your line in anyway, un-bait it, and re-bait it with a new bit of the same bait.
Because obviously, the problem is the bait.
What strikes me as ironic about all of this is that we developed the art of fishing, as we know it today, by understanding the way fish operate. We learned that fish will go after something wiggling in the water, that this is how they find their food. We learned that they are dumb enough to eat a worm when they just watched their friend eat a worm and disappear into thin air (literally, from a fish-eye view). We learned that adding a bobber to the line keeps the bait bobbling at just the right depth for the fish to find it and be interested. We learned that fish eat worms at all! And that sometimes, they eat crickets. And that some of them are so foolish, they'll go after synthetic fibers that sort of look like food. We fish because we studied the fish and figured out how this would work best.
Then we sit on the dock or in the boat or in the sand, cast a line, and put all our hope in the bait. Shouldn't we put our faith in the fish? To be...fish? Isn't that how this whole thing started?
The parallels to our holy lives are stunning. We've spent a great deal of our time studying God. Trying to figure Him out. Trying to discover His behavior patterns and how we think He responds to this or that stimulus. We begin our religious pursuits by trying to understand God, by trying to figure out how He operates. But as time goes by, we start to put our hope in the bait.
We bait our line with trust and wait on God to show His faithfulness. We bait our line with prayer and wait on Him to answer. We bait our line with hope and wait for God to reveal His promise. We bait our line with good things, things we know that are pleasing to God, but we haven't put our faith in Him.
We're trusting in our bait to hook the God we want to see. To pull the God we want out of the lake of Living Water. Sometimes, He bites and we get just what we're looking for, but we're not thankful. We don't consider that God has just acted according to the very nature we studied in Him. No, we praise our bait for catching Him. We start to praise our trust. We start to praise our prayer. We start to praise our hope and the other good things we put on the line.
Somewhere for us, fishing became about the bait. We spend our time trying to "hook" God instead of just giving what we've got and trusting Him to do His thing.
It's something like this. When we trust in the worm, we can't understand why the fish isn't biting. That's why, after awhile, we pull the worm out and put a new worm on the hook and send it back out for a bite. You see, what we fail to understand is that the fish has a life outside of eating. The fish spends some of its time just swimming around. Some time diving for fun. Some time going to school. (Sorry. Had to.) The fish spends some of its day just being a fish, which is so much more than just biting and worms. And you know? Maybe that fish just isn't interested in a worm right now; maybe he's looking for a cricket.
There's so much more to being a fish than biting a line. You'd think for all our study of how to catch a fish, we would understand that sometimes, a fish just does not want to be caught. Sometimes, he's just too busy being a fish.
The same is true of our God. When we trust in our bait, we can't understand why God isn't biting. When we dare trust, we can't understand why He doesn't answer with affirmation. When we dare pray, we can't understand why He doesn't speak. When we dare hope, we can't understand why He doesn't fulfill. What we fail to understand is that God has a life that goes far deeper than our bait can ever reach. God spends some of His time not responding, but calling. He spends some of His time not answering, but asking. He spends some of His time just being God, which is so much more than giving us everything we think we want. Sometimes, it's giving us exactly what we need. And you know? Maybe God just isn't all that interested in making you happy right now; maybe He's more interested in making you holy.
We long to understand our God; that's what started this whole fishing expedition called faith. Knowing that's true, don't you think it's time we go back to basics and start trusting Him more than the hook? Shouldn't we put our faith in the Father? To be...the Father?