Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Fish Hook Gift

It was a tough week. Sam and I took another step in this journey of ours. He was having trouble preparing meals he could eat and it had finally become more trouble than it was worth for him. Although I don't cook anything like Jamie (his beloved wife who died in October), we decided I would cook every meal for Sam, pureeing it to make it easier to eat. Sam agreed to eat anything I cooked.

It was an adjustment for both of us and we were both tired by the end of the week. On top of our new schedule, I was exhausted from crying and praying about our nation. Going fishing was the last thing on my mind.

Sam, however, had wanted to go fishing for a while. I knew he could catch the fish without help, but getting the fish off the hook and cleaning them was another matter. I could get the fish off, even though I hate to, but cleaning fish is not in my skill set. I'd been dreading cleaning the fish, and I'd put off a fishing expedition because of it.

God knew that, and He sent Harold and Suzann Patterson to help me out. Wednesday night, Harold said, "I remember you said Sam wanted to go fishing. Would it be okay if we came Friday afternoon and took him fishing?" I wanted to cry. Yes, it would be more than okay.

As the week went on, Harold decided to bring two young men with him and have a fish fry with whatever they caught. Wesley and his wife go to our church. Chad is a seminary student in Memphis. Both of them love to fish.

Sam, Harold, and Chad went to the best fishing spot and started to fish. (Wesley hadn't arrived yet.) Sam threw his hook in the water and caught a fish. 

It was obvious he couldn't get down to the water to get the fish off the line, so Chad, who was closer to the water, rose to the occasion. "I'll get it for you." He took the fish off the hook and put it on his stringer.

Before Chad could get his own line back in the water, Sam caught another fish. Chad took that one off the hook, too.

It went on like that for hours. Chad, an avid fisherman, sacrificed his own experience for an elderly man he had just met who loved to fish. He took one fish after another off Sam's hook. Dozens of fish.

"How many fish have you caught, Chad?"

"Only two. I don't have time to catch fish. Every time Sam reaches his hand out, he picks up a fish." His grin spread all the way across his face. If he wasn't having as much fun as Sam, it sure looked like he was.

When Wesley arrived, pole in hand, he watched Sam and Chad for a few minutes, saw the rhythm the two fishermen had going, and opted to move down the levee a little. If Chad hadn't been there, I have no doubt Wesley would have managed the hooks for Sam.

Later, as the two young men cleaned the fish, Chad talked about his dreams for the future. "I just want to minister in a way that makes a difference."

"You've already done that tonight. I can't begin to thank you for the way you ministered to Sam." 

He looked confused. "Ministered to Sam?"

"Yep. You sacrificed for a man you didn't know in a way I could have never done. I consider it a gift for both of us. Didn't you see his face? He was thrilled beyond words. You gave him a gift he won't forget."

A slow smile spread across Chad's face. "I didn't see it like that, but he did have fun, didn't he?"

Sam will talk about yesterday for a long time. The day he caught one fish after another (and didn't have to take them off the hook) will be one of those memories that we take out and retell over and over again.

It wouldn't have been possible without the body of Christ working together to make it happen. Harold and Suzann, Chad, and Wesley were all critical elements in the orchestration of God that blessed an elderly man who's too frail to fish by himself.

I saw God at work in them all last night, and the hard times of the past week faded away before the gift they gave. 

I want to be as ready to serve others as they were last night, especially Chad. To be as quick to recognize a need and respond as Harold and Suzann. To be as open and eager to get to know his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ as Wesley. 

Jesus said, "When you have done it to the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me." 

Last night, Four people served Sam, but, in so doing, they served Jesus, as well. It was a beautiful sight.

Let's go and do likewise.

"The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'" Matthew 25:40 nasb
#fishing #bodyofChrist #disciple