WHICH SIDE OF THE BOAT DO YOU FISH FROM
By: Gary L. Rodgers
Fishing is a fun and exciting sport. It takes some amount of patience, some skill, and it always helps to go where the fish are. Fish won’t come to you unless you have enticed them with the right kind of bait. I have at times thrown pieces of bread on the water and watched as the fish would feed on it. I have enjoyed watching the relaxing and gentle movements of fish in an aquarium. A good fisherman learns to relax and enjoy the moment. Some days you catch one or two fish and other days you either catch a bunch of them or none at all. The thrill of hooking one that puts up a good fight makes it exciting and joyful for you. It’s a feeling like none other when you hook a big one. The tug and pull on the pole gets your blood to racing through your veins. You need to know how much drag to apply to your lines so that when the fish is pulling against the line that it doesn’t break. The idea is to wear the fish down so that he puts up less of a fight. Sometimes a fish will swim toward you in an attempt to spit out the hook, and during those times you need to wind your reel quickly to always keep the line taunt. Some fish have a soft mouth so you need to be easy on the drag and how hard that you fight them. Sometimes you just need to go along with the fish until the right moment to land them. Some fish hit the bait hard while others are very gentle; so you need to get a feel for that. Fishing is a great experience and you can learn a lot as you go.
FISHING FOR MEN
Jesus said “follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19 and Mark 1:17 Fishing for men is just as exciting and fulfilling as it is to catching fish. You need to carry with you the “bread of life,” Jesus Christ if you are going to catch men. Sometimes when going after fish you come to learn that when the sun is on your back that you will cast a shadow on the water and your sudden movements will at times spook the fish. When going after men always remember to keep the Son before your face.
I like what Jesus told Peter and those six that were in the ship with Peter on the sea of Tiberias to cast their net on the other side of the ship. John chapter 21,
Peter and those that were with him had fished all night and caught nothing. I can imagine how frustrated and tired they were. There have been times that I fished for many hours and caught nothing. It’s tiring, it’s frustrating and it makes you wonder what you are doing wrong.
FISHING IN DEEP WATERS
I remember my Dad telling me a story about one of his fishing expeditions. He enjoyed fishing and he was quite good at it. He said that he was fishing at a lake and was casting out into some deep water. So what he did, which he also taught me was to tie a piece of rubber-band on the line at the depth that you want to fish and too trim it off closely at the knot so that it would easily slide off of the spool and through the eyes of the rod. Then you put some split shot down to within about 18” of the hook. You put enough split shot on the line so that the minnow would tire himself out from trying to swim back up to the surface of the water. Then you would take a fair sized plastic bobber and turn the metal catch of the bobber so that the line could easily pass through it. After doing that you would hook the bobber onto your line below the piece of rubber band. Now you were all set to fish. The bobber would slide down until it hit the split shot which made casting easy to do. After the cast you would give enough slack so that the minnow along with the split shot would sink down deep into the water. Once the piece of rubber-band hits the metal loop of the bobber you would see the bobber flip upright and you knew that you were at full depth to catch fish. An ingenious way to fish!
LEARNING FROM OTHERS
Anyway, my Dad was telling me that one time he was fishing at this lake and he was catching all sorts of fish using this method. Two guys that were sitting not too far from him were watching him fish; they couldn’t believe that he was catching so many and they didn’t have much of anything. They saw that each time he cast, his bobber was not that far up from the hook, so they kept moving their hook close to the bobber. After awhile one of them came over and said that they were doing the same thing as my Dad and were fishing as shallow as he was and they were not getting any bites. So Dad had a good laugh and gave them some rubber-bands and taught them the secrete of fishing deep while casting with a short amount of line. Soon they were all catching fish.
FISHING FOR SOULS
The point of all of this comes down to how do we catch men? When Jesus called out to Peter and his crew and told them to cast their net on the other side I can imagine their thoughts. They were probably thinking that they have been fisherman all of their lives and they knew how to catch fish. Now here comes someone who tells them to try it his way. Frustrated and tired I imagine they thought to themselves, “what can it hurt; we haven’t caught anything all night!” Much to their surprise their net was filled with fish, and in verse eleven we find that they caught an hundred and fifty three fish in all.
JESUS KNOWS HOW TO FISH
No doubt that Jesus knows how to fish. He knows exactly what it takes to catch men! Yes! it takes time and patience. It takes someone like Christ to teach us how. And if we keep Him in the forefront of our witnessing we will catch men. And there will be memorable moments that you will carry with you for life. Some men will be caught easily and some will put up a good fight. And those that struggle in the battle for eternal life will be the catch that you will always hold dear to your heart. Sometimes you are surprised at what you catch. Some will be trophy catches that go on into the ministry as Pastors, Deacons, Evangelists and Teachers. But always keep in mind that if you go fishing without the bread of life (Jesus Christ) for bait, you will fail. You see Peter and his crew was fishing under the knowledge and power of self. It was not until they fished under the guidance of The Lord Jesus Christ that they became successful in their catch.
THE SKILLS OF FISHING
Fishing takes time, patience and knowledge of what you are fishing for in order to make a catch. Never go soul winning without Jesus Christ. You need to always pray for the direction and power of the Holy Spirit to guide you in your steps and in your words. You don’t need to be a theologian to win souls. You can’t plan ahead what questions you will be asked and what answers you will give. You go along with the pulls and tugs and keep the line of witnessing taunt. There will be times when you catch nothing because the fish cleaned off your hook. But always bear in mind that sometimes you will feed the fish rather than catch them. God says that His word will not return to Him void in Isaiah 55:11, so be thankful for those days that the people are fed with the word. It will in time accomplish what God has set out for it to do. In time you will learn how to cast, how to hook, and how to bring in souls to Christ. Not everyone that Jesus spoke to got saved. The Rich Young Ruler was an example of that in Matthew 19:16-22 He tried to gain eternal life by doing the works of the law. When Jesus told him to sell all that he had and give it to the poor, be sure to understand that Jesus did not want this young man to be poor and destitute. He wanted the young man to see that you can’t hold onto the world and Him (Christ) at the same time. We all have to decide which is more important to us Jesus or worldly pleasures. It all comes down to this question. What will we hold onto and what will we give up to have Jesus first in our lives?
SOMETIMES FISH WILL NOT FEED
Sometimes people don’t want to hear what we have to say. But you are not alone in this. Some were fearful and didn’t want to hear what Jesus had to say, so He left them and moved on.
Luke 8:37 Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again.
And just like Jesus you will find those that are anxious to receive Him and here the good news as indicated in verse forty.
There are many, many precious souls out there waiting for you to bring the good news to them. Go ahead and take that step of faith and you will come to see that the Lord has a special blessing waiting for you when you see your first soul get saved. God has a joy waiting to put into your heart that you will never forget, the day that you went fishing with Jesus for souls and caught one.
SOME THINGS THAT I DO WHEN I GO SOUL WINNING:
- I always pray that the Spirit of the Lord will guide me to people that I can be a witness to; and I pray that Satan will be held at bay during those moments when a soul is about to receive Christ as Lord and Savior.
- I always show people what it says in the bible so that they can see it for themselves. I never ask them to read what it says in the event that they are not able to read well. It will embarrass them and may even destroy the opportunity to win them to Christ.
- I write down the date, time and place that they received Christ and I give them a copy of it for a record that they can keep in their bible.
- I always ask for their full name, address, and phone number so that I can do a follow up with them later to see how they are doing and answer any questions or concerns. I give them information so that they can contact me as well.
- I invite them to visit our church, and if they are too far away I ask them if it would be alright to have a member of a local church in their area visit them?
I have called Christian colleges and through their help I have made contact with Pastors that are local to the person that just got saved.
May the power and influence of the Holy Spirit go with you as you venture out to win souls for Christ!