I could tell you plenty of great fishing stories—I have lots! Some of them got away, some of them didn’t. I’ve even had fish randomly jump in the boat (as my friend Graham Buchanan can attest to). Let me just tell you that when a fish jumps in the boat without being caught, it is not happy!
The story I want to share came very early on in my faith. We were in Minden, Ontario. I was sitting in the middle of 12 Mile Lake on a paddleboat with my mom. We had been out there for a long period of time and weren’t catching a thing. I told my mom that the fish weren’t going to bite today so we might as well head in. My mom suggested that before we throw in the towel, that we pray. I had never prayed for catching fish before, but it seemed like a good idea.
Within seconds of praying, my line screamed. A few minutes later, I reeled in probably the biggest smallmouth bass I’ve caught to this day.
Luke 5:1-11 records this:
On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on Him to hear the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and He saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, He asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.’ And Simon answered, ‘Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.’ And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’ For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.’ And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.
When I think back to that moment on the paddleboat, I realize it was never about the fish, but rather God bringing glory to Himself. All authority is His. He commands the waves to be still, the wind to stop, and even the fish to bite. Could it have happened by chance? Sure. But chance had its opportunity for hours. God needed only seconds.
You might be thinking to yourself, “Man, I should head out fishing with you!” Truth be told, since that moment, I’ve been out fishing dozens of times where I’ve prayed for fish. Sometimes we catch them, sometimes we don’t. I do know one thing though: God is in control, and that’s good enough for me.
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” (Proverbs 19:21)