I have fished since I was a teenager. I started fishing for carp in the canals of my little town. As and older teenager, my occasional trip to the levee was one of my most memorable outings and it gave me an opportunity to catch a bass. I was fifteen before I took my first trip to the lake. As a young adult, I spent many hours on those lakes. Crappie, largemouth, and white bass were the species I knew best. As I got a little older, I learned the nuances of the small rivers in my area. I have fished the shallow crappie waters of Alabama and the multitude of small pike-infested lakes of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters. I have fished from the most expensive bass boats, the least expensive Jon boats, kayaks, and even in waders. What I had never done until last year, was fish the North Fork River in Arkansas. This trip triggered the inexperience I had with larger, fast flowing, and unbelievably cold, rivers. Not only was I trying to catch trout, but at the same time I was trying to keep the small boat arranged to keep us in the correct position for fishing, and for keeping us from being capsized by a hidden log, a low-lying tree limb, or just by an unexpected wave. Needless to say, for the first few hours, fishing was not on the top of my priority list. Staying alive and dry was. Most of my group was as inexperienced as me. Each boat operator had to learn quickly how to maneuver in order to have a safe and successful time. As for fishing, the idea was to manage all the different paces of the environment we were in. To catch fish, we had to manage the flow of the river, the pace of the boat, and the retrieval speed of the lure we were using. Each of us had our difficult moments. These were not comfortable days on a placid lake. These were adventures in unknown and unexpected environments, that were capped with both success and failures. When the fishing was over, we all came back to the cabin and ate together, shared our stories, competed in trash-talking cornhole competitions, and laughed a lot. Then we prepared to do it again the next day.
One afternoon, I stayed at the cabin. I watched as each man adapted to the situations given him. Each one tailored his efforts according to the winds, waves, and currents of the unknown. And each one finished the day, tired. Some caught more fish than others, but all did their best. I imagined standing at the door of the place we call church. I imagined welcoming people who had spent a week adapting to more difficult situations with more important ramifications. And I imagined them needing a place to eat, rest, recover, fellowship, laugh, and be encouraged for the following day when they will face life once again. And I can’t imagine anything more important for the church to do, than that.