You’ve heard the joke: there’s a reason it’s called ‘fishing’ rather than ‘catching’.
As a young boy I remember my father taking me camping at an isolated lake he’d found in the Oregon coastal range mountains. With a small rowboat, we went out on the lake as the sun rose over the mountains to fish for our dinner.
It seemed that we had been out in that boat forever. No movement was allowed. Not a sound could be uttered. Yes, the cold water was home to trout, but the wait to catch these fish was more than this hungry, antsy, little boy could take.
Swimming in the water were scads of small brown and orange water newts. The fish didn’t want to be caught that morning, but the newts were ready. They were easy to catch. I merely dropped the wormed hook onto the surface of the water and the newts fought to be captured! I was so eager to “catch” that I’d take anything on my hook. I fished to catch every trout, but not every trout was caught … and that day none were caught.
Jesus called to two brothers fishing on the Sea of Galilee: Come after Me, and I will make you become fishers of men (Mark 1:17).
My observance has always been that fish don’t want to be caught. Despite our best efforts, the latest technology, or number of hours stood on the shoreline, only a very few fish will nibble and even fewer will take the hook. Even those which take the hook will fight against the fisherman. Never does a fisherman stand on the shore with rod and reel in hand and fish jump out of the water eager to be put in a knapsack and slapped into a hot frying pan.
We may be fishers of men, but only the Spirit of God can forcefully overcome the natural sinful instincts of a man for the glorious gospel of grace. Still we cast our line into the water and wait.
Jesus said, No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him (John 6:44).