I must have been about 7 years old when I rode in Daddy’s red Ford truck over to the Little River to fish off the train tracks. He used corn right out of the can for bait. I mostly ate the corn and asked a lot of questions. Daddy shushed me and showed me over and over how to hold the pole and how to reel the line, the Daffy Duck tattoo on his forearm moving funny when he pulled back on the rod . I kept casting into the mess of brush over on the river banks. He kept having to stop and untangle me. He never complained and he didn’t talk much. He was bringing me into his world, not making a false world that centered on me. The gift was time with him. Yet, it was so ordinary and unassuming. It didn’t look like much of a gift at the time. It seemed a little boring, hot, and pointless. That is until we finally caught a fish. Then, I remembered why we were there. The goal was to catch fish, despite the fact that I always wanted to somehow make the day about me and how much progress I was making at becoming a fisherman.
There are so many lessons there, for Lent and for everyday.
The Father wants to give us the gift of Himself, if we would but sit quiet and listen and learn. This is not about us. This is about Him and how much He loves us and how willing He is to share His life with us. And the goal? To make us fishers of men. To help us focus on something besides ourselves, which is a most monumental task because our self-importance does not die easy. Not without a fight to the very death. But even as our death to sin is a pretend death—because tomorrow it will rear its ugly in our lives again, in Christ there is real death to, and for sin –His death for us and His life for us. That’s Lent. (via Todd Wilken)
The season of Lent comes around every year to discipline us, to sharpen us, to make us warriors, to make us fishermen—but mostly to remind us that Christ’s cry from the cross, “It is finished,” has never been more true. It is finished. Real death has been conquered, salvation has been won. You have been made his child and there’s is nothing left to work for, nothing left to do. He’s done everything to bring you home. Your needs have all been met in Him.
So, if Lent is about Him and his perfect sacrifice, then why are we fishing again?
Because Lent points us away from ourselves toward Christ and toward our neighbor.
Lent is not about you, it’s about Him and him.
Your neighbor has needs like you can’t imagine. His life is falling apart just like yours, but without the lifeboat of Christ. He’s hungry, hopeless, sick, dying, or maybe just as self-obsessed as the rest of us. He has never felt so desperate. He has never been so alone. But, you and I have failed to see him because we are so entangled in our own appetites. We are so worried about our own bank accounts, our own stomachs, or even our own spirituality. We are busy chasing our own noble dreams, perhaps even doing things for God. But, we’ve forgotten that God doesn’t need anything from us—that all we bring to the table is sin and greed and selfishness. Lent reminds us that He doesn’t need us, but he has placed a plethora of people in our lives who do.
And maybe when the fog of our appetites and our obsessions slowly starts to fade, we can see more clearly why we are here what we’ve been placed here to do. We can take baby steps to start living our lives in service of those whose needs are more pressing than ever—the people in your life like your husband, your children, your boss, and the widow that sits next to you at church.
It’s easy for Lent to become an exercise in how disciplined we’re becoming or how contrite we are for our sin. We will twist anything into a self-fest, or at least I will.
The reason we want to practice self-discipline is actually not for ourselves—it’s for our neighbor, so that all of the things that keep us in bondage, the things that keep us from rightly serving our people can be stripped away.
May this Lenten season turn our eyes outward—to a Father who loves us so much that He will freely give us all things and teach us, however slowly and however painfully, to be fishers of men.
A big thank you to Jennifer, from the Old Painted Cottage, for featuring our lake house as her cottage of the month!