Back in the 1950s, a fishing show originated out of a Kansas City, Mo., TV station. It was hosted by Harold Ensley and the name of the show was “The Sportsman’s Friend.” It had a catchy and brief introductory and closing ditty with words, “Gone fishin’ instead of just a-wishin’.” Eventually, I think, the show was syndicated and was seen in markets across the country – at least in places where people do a lot of fishing. I was just a little girl when Daddy took me to the Kansas City Sports Show where I was able to meet Mr. Ensley in person and shake his hand. He was kind of next to God during primetime in our house, or my dad would have led us to believe it. I remember looking up at the two men as they traded fishing stories and my daddy was in Seventh Heaven.
It was funny, I thought, that Dad would spend every minute he could out fishing and I’m sure he didn’t have the time to do it as often as he would like. But he didn’t like the taste of fish. Mom loved it though and was always hopeful that he would come home with a mess of fish she could prepare for supper. She would fry a hamburger for the fisherman.
I never had much patience for fishing, but I loved worms. Dad knew his way around the St. Joseph, Mo., Stockyards and he would take us kids with him after nightfall to some remote area of the Yards to dig for nightcrawlers. I’m not certain we were supposed to be there. But he knew where to look and one good shovel-full of dirt would yield a good start at finding big, fat, juicy earthworms for the fishing trip the next day. Those little buggers were big and fat but they were fast. I loved scrambling after them with Dad’s flashlight trained on the mound of dirt, nabbing them with my fingers for our bucket. When we were sure we had enough, Dad would pile (let’s face it) the manure enriched soil into the pail to keep them alive and fresh. Hand-washing had to wait until we got home, but I didn’t give one whit.
But worms were not always his bait of choice. I was fascinated by one of my dad’s favorite hobbies that related to fishing but in the off-season. He used to tie flys. It was a painstaking process. I’m sure there’s a more proper name for it, but I recall he would screw a kind of vise grip to the table and with that he would tighten the all-important hook and begin the methodical work with both hands free. His equipment included feathers and line and various kinds of fabric in assorted colors. He always took his glasses off and got his head down really close to his work so he could see the intricacies of what he was doing. My personal favorites were the ones with the most color in them, but Dad usually opted to tie a fly that could most easily resemble the real thing so bright colors were kind of taboo. It was important, you see, to get not only the right color combinations but to get the right size and weight so that it really would look like a bug when it sat on top of the water. Fly tying was a wintertime project so that when spring arrived he was ready to hit the Missouri stock dams.
And it wasn’t long into the spring before he headed out on his first fishing expedition of the season. He was anxious to try out each of his new creations and to see which one would really do the trick. After getting settled into a comfortable spot along the bank, he would carefully ready his fishing pole and the first of his flys.
Before making that first cast into the water, he would survey the shadows on top and the underwater vegetation visible from his vantagepoint. Then, carefully, all the while eyeing a particular spot in the water, he would draw back the rod and gently cast the fishing line and the fly into the spot he had chosen. The artificial lure, when constructed properly, would hit the water lightly so as not to produce a sound, but would be evident from the shore by nearly invisible rivulets of water pushing out from it. There it would rest sometimes for several minutes and sometimes for only seconds depending on the mood of the fisherman, the look of the water, the movement of shadows, or the aura of fish.
And yet no matter how long that fly rested, the fisherman was ever attentive. Just because the fly had been created and carefully cast into that special spot on the water was no reason for the angler to be less vigilant. An almost invisible movement in the lure (or bobber when he used worms) could indicate the presence of a fish which had grazed but not yet succumbed to the tempting morsel floating on the water’s surface or not far beneath it. A slight pull of the line could give life to the artificial fly and result in catching the evening’s supper.
Fishing is a line of work and pleasure dating back to biblical times, perhaps back to human appearance in Creation.
There is an ancient Greek work for “cast” that fits a fishing scenario. It literally means “throw upon.” Think about when we go fishing. We’ve gotten ourselves all situated. The tackle box is handy; the cooler is serving as a good seat. The bait is on the hook and we’re ready to throw the line in. But before we do, we check the water. We watch for movement. We look for vegetation. We study the shadows and the angle of the sun on the water. Then we carefully pick the spot where we want the line to go in and then – only then – do we cast the line.
I’ve always wasted a lot of my time worrying and I’ve come to think about that Greek word for “cast” when I catch myself absorbed in envisioning worthless scenarios. Like a good fisherman, I figure out a way to cast my worries on God. I have to be deliberate about it. I have to think about what I’m doing. I have to give careful consideration to what those worries are and how I can cast them away – how God can take those worries on for me. Casting is an act of will and casting my anxieties away requires prayerful consideration. When I treat them as a lure at the end of that line, I can cast them out into the water. And then I can settle back and contemplate what my next step will be.
Even though I may successfully cast my worries into a carefully chosen location, I still must remain vigilant – even as Dad was vigilantly aware of potential fish that may be seeking his bait. Sounds like work, but the irony is that when we cast our worries on God, that frees us to be watchful. We cannot sit back and do nothing. We must be disciplined. Just as a fish may be slyly eyeing the bait considering how he can get it without letting that hook set in his mouth, the angler has to be on alert as well. And I do too, when I cast my worries on God.
It doesn’t mean I can’t lean back and read a good book or even snooze a bit. Fishing should be relaxing after all. But worries can creep back into my life so easily that I just have to be attuned to what’s going on around me.
I don’t want to be caught unaware and let the bait get nabbed off my hook. I don’t want to get distracted from what I am about or what God has called me to be. Like fishing, I want to hook the opportunities life has in store for me. I want to bring home a good catch. And that will usually mean that the bait, the worries, won’t come home with me.
“Cast all your anxiety on God, because God cares for you. Discipline yourselves, keep alert.” – 1 Peter 5:7-8Share here: