On the second day of our vacation, I rubbed the sleep from eyes. Hints of light peeked through blinds as the sky outside our sliding glass doors turned the early morning blue-grey.
Swinging my feet over the side of the bed, I carefully pushed the covers back, quietly sneaking out of the room so as not to wake my husband. While pushing my ball cap over my bed hair, I thought, “Today, I am going to catch a fish.” My grandfather and me sitting on a dock with fishing rods in our hands flashed through my mind. “Fishing is in my blood.”
Skipping down the stairs, I mumbled a prayer and felt the Lord’s pleasure on my upcoming adventure. With coffee steaming in one hand, my rod safely tucked under my arm, and the tackle box in the other, I strolled through the dewy grass to the rickety dock behind our Airbnb.
A light mist hung low over the bayou in the early morning air as I baited my line with corn I had found leftover from the last occupants. “We always used corn growing up,” I muttered to myself.
Thunder sounded behind me. A Florida storm brewed. “That’s a little early, isn’t it, Lord?” My hopes for my catch diminished just a tad. “Well, it’s not that close yet. I’ll just try again.”
My husband’s fly rod felt clumsy in my hand as I held the line against the fiberglass with my finger. The first two casts were successful, but as I brought the line in each time, the fish clearly were enjoying their morning breakfast of corn because the hook came back empty.
As I drew my arm back for the third cast, I held the handle loosely. I threw my arm forward, releasing the line as well as the bright blue rod that was once in my grasp. It flew gracefully through the air, landing with a splash on top of the water just out of reach of the dock.
In my momentary desperation, thoughts of jumping in flashed. Reason won out as I ran to get a paddle from beside the kayak tilted against the wall beside the deck.
“Darn. Too short,” I sighed as the thunderclap resounded closer. “What do I do, Papa?” An idea flashed like a light bulb in my head. I quickly texted my husband so, if I got struck by lightning, he would at least know where to find me, and I ran to grab the kayak.
Filled with determination and a pump of adrenaline, I pushed my vessel into the water with my steel paddle as my husband sleepily walked onto the dock to watch me risk my life to rescue his rod.
After paddling out, I tried to balance the boat as I attempted to slip the end of the paddle under the rod. “Put it under the…” my husband offered, but my kayak started to tilt, and I overcompensated, wobbling the boat back and forth.
Precariously, I positioned the paddle just before the reel instead of under it. “Not there,” my husband said, but it was a second too late. As I placed it under, the rod flipped up into the air in a vertical position and then sunk like the Titanic to the bottom of the bayou. My hopes for the big catch sank with it.
The lightning flashed closer as my husband helped pull me and the kayak out of the water. “Abba, You caused an ax head to float in the Bible. Please, please bring back the fishing rod.”
After sharing my comedy of errors with my girls, they decided to grab the other fishing rods and continue what I had started. I walked onto the dock as my youngest daughter gasped, “What?” She began giggling as she reeled in her line. “Oh my gosh! I caught the fishing line of the other pole.”
My husband helped her grasp the line and pull in the sunken rod. My daughter jumped up and down with pure delight. “Mom, look,” she said as she handed me the rod. “Look what I caught.”
“Well, you caught the BIG ONE! You get the catch of the day,” I said.
I laughed as I took the rod into my hands. “See, Papa loves me. He gave me my rod back.”
But I wasn’t satisfied. I still had not caught a fish. Several more times that week, I found myself with my bare feet dangling from the side of the dock, carefully and tightly holding onto the rod as I released the line, but each time, the hook returned empty.
The sun was setting on the last evening while my husband, daughter, and I finished our last attempts. I didn’t realize that the screw holding in the handle had loosened in all my failed attempts, so as I continued to cast the line, the turn handle slipped off and fell into the water with a bloop.
I flung my head held back as I watched the pinkish clouds floating by and whispered, “Papa, please, I just want to catch a fish.” I felt Him smiling at me as I kept trying, using my hands to manually turn the reel each time.
“Babe, we have to go in now. It’s getting dark, and we have to pack up.” My husband’s reasoning won out.
One more time. Cast it one more time. I heard quietly in my heart.
“Just once more?” I begged.
“OK. But that’s it.”
Slowly turning the reel for the final time, the hook came above the water’s surface, and I heard a splash.
“Oh, my word!” Staring down into the murky water, I could hardly believe it. Dangling on the end of the line was a fish, wiggling with all its might to free itself.
“There is a God! See, there is a GOD!” I was just kidding around, but elation filled my heart, and I held the rod up so my husband and daughter could see.
I danced around the dock and said, “Take a picture. Take a picture. I have to prove this.”
The voice in my heart resounded as well. I love you, daughter. I care about you and your fish.
Laughter filled my heart as I let the little guy free. I walked into the living room where my other two daughters were watching a movie.
“You won’t believe this, but I caught a fish this big.” I pretended to throw my arms out wide but, instead, mocked the small size of the fish with my hands. They rolled over in their blankets, giggling at my animation.
I’ve had people say, “Well, God doesn’t really care about things like that,” or “Maybe He talks to you that way, but He doesn’t talk to me.” But I know He’s real and wants to be an intimate part of everything we do.
God is holy, righteous, Creator of the universe, huge, etc… He holds the oceans in the palm of His hand, yet He cares about me. He cares whether my rod is at the bottom of a bayou, and He cares for my silly request for catching a fish.
He loves us. He wants to be our best friend, to be intimately involved in every detail of our lives.
He’s my very best friend. What an honor it is to call Him that?!
His invitation to you is the same as mine. He desires you. He wants to take us back to Eden, to restore the close fellowship and friendship that was once lost. He wants to take our hands and walk with us, and sometimes give us our hearts’ desires even if they are as simple as catching a fish.
Featured Image By Kelly Sikkema
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on wholeheartedwomen.org