Friday, December 7, 2012

Cast your worries...

I haven't been fishing in a long time.  It is tragic.  But this morning during a high school bible class we talked about what the bible says about worry and the Lord reminded me of why I go fishing.  The teacher, Mr Beane, asked the kids to form a mental picture of what it means to "cast your worries on Jesus" and being slightly obsessed with fishing I instantly got a picture of standing in the Forks Pool in the mighty Margaree River.  If you've never been fly fishing; a) you should go. b) it works pretty much opposite to the way you think it should.

First lets talk about effectiveness.  Fly fishing is certainly not the most productive way to catch a fish.  If you're trout fishing the idea is that you match closely your fake fly with the thousands of other bugs that are on or in the water in an effort to trick the trout into thinking your fake fly made of treat and feathers and glue taste better that the juicy bug that just land on the water.  If you're salmon fishing, the object of your game is more to annoy the fish to the point of attacking your feather thread glue offering.  Unfortunately, salmon are pretty even tempered and lazy a lot of the time and will ignore your annoying pestering for days.  If I were to fish effectively, I would use a net.  That's much more productive (and illegal).  But it's so much work using a net, it's heavy and bulky and you have to do a lot of pulling and carrying and struggling and worrying that you might be arrested.  When I go to the river to fish, it's not necessarily about the fish (although I do want to catch a fish).  But there is something about standing in the river, being patient, being quiet, enjoying creation that helps bring relief from worry.  So often, rather than bringing the things I'm worried about to Jesus I want to work through them myself.   I want to solve the problem.  I want to wrap it up in a net even it if means struggle.  But that is not the attitude Jesus wants me to have about the things that worry me.
There's often a clarity that comes to things I'm thinking about when I'm there.  It is so indicative of the idea of casting my worries on Jesus, it's almost like the physical act of each cast is like throwing worries into the river where they are swept away.  One of the girls had the picture of put things in a big heavy sack (by things I think she meant her brother) and giving them to Jesus.  A clear idea of how much worry some teens carry around about relationships, school, family, self-images, etc.  So many of carry around sacks that just keep getting heavier and it becomes more and more difficult to hand them over.  That not Jesus plan for us.  If you've gotten to the point where you're carrying around a big sack of worry, hand that over, you can't fish while you're carry a big sack.

Something else that is opposite when fly fishing is the perception newbies have of how you getting that tiny little fly all the way out in the river.  It is nearly weightless so you must have to cast it with a lot of force right? No.  Opposite.  Without fail, every new fly fisherman (this may actually be different for women, because they would probably read the instructions that come with their fly fishing package first or ask someone to show them how to do it) will try their best to fling, with all their strength, that tiny little fly to the other side of the river, sometimes for hours.  I did it, my friends did it, you'll do it.  You will fail.  Your fly will hit you in the back of the head, wrap around your boots, get caught in the trees behind you, hook another fishermen in the ear, but it will not go out in the river where you want it.  Ok, here's where you stop for 5 minutes, get out of the river and watch the 80 year old guy who can barely walk to the river bank step in the pool, make two motions with his rod and cast his fly 100 feet, make two more cast and pull out a 10 pounder.  Pause.  Now that you're anger has subsided, watch again.  It's completely effortless.  He moves his rod slowly between 10 and 2 and out goes the line.  No flinging or whipping.  10 and 2.  Have you ever met Christians who seem worry-less.  There first response to things that should cause great worry is "let's pray".  They've learned by experience that running around flinging things and struggling with things usually amount to getting tied up and hitting yourself in the back of the head.  It becomes effortless once you know the truth about 10 and 2 to cast exactly where you want to.  It becomes effortless when you know that the results of casting your worries on Jesus will always be as consistent as 10 and 2.  Now that you've gotten rid of that big sack you can work on casting.

One of the things you'll notice when you're fishing, after you've figure out how to get your little fly out there, is  it always goes down stream.  Rivers always flow down stream.  Things are always carried downstream by the power of the river, they are swept away.  As you fish, you start at the top of a pool and make your way down stream, it is effortless.  Two cast, one step down stream, no resistance, the water actually helps move you in the right direction.  Try fishing upstream if you like.  It's very difficult and pointless.  You'll spend so much time and effort fighting against the force of the water that you'll never be able to cast.  if you cast upstream, you're fly will just float into you and get wrapped up in your boots.  And the old guy who just caught the 10 pounder will shake his head at you.  It will become obvious and natural the more time you spend in the river that you should move with the river, that you should cast with the river not against it.  It will become obvious and natural as you cast your worries on Jesus that you should go in his direction, that you can let him carry the things away.  That once you've made the cast, he will move things in the right direction.

I've gone fishing lot's of times and never caught a fish (well not lots) but I've never gone fishing and come back feeling empty handed.  Sometimes I've seen a new part of the river, sometimes I've seen an eagle catch a fish.  Sometimes I've met people from other countries who've flown halfway around the world to experience something God's put in my back yard.  Sometimes I've fallen in.  Sometimes I've had hours to just talk to Jesus and cast my worries on Him.  Fishing doesn't always pan out the way I think it's going to.  Sometimes when I think the river should be full of fish, I've totally missed the run.  Casting our worries on Jesus can be like that, it doesn't always look like I think it will.  But I never fell empty hand when I do it, just lighter.  Sometimes, if I pray hard, I even get to see a fish.

Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Philippians 4:6-7

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