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Storms and fishing: more lessons from Blacky

My grandfather Blacky asked me to go with him fishing and shrimping. My older cousin laughed and warned: “You’ll be sorry!” Yet everything started smoothly as I helped toss out the nets and guide the boat.

The work was hard, but seeing the shrimp and working beside grandpa, the greatest fisherman in the world, made it all worthwhile. Then Blacky fell asleep; not just a polite snooze but a symphony filled with snores and wheezes to wake the dead. Now what? I was in deep water and deep trouble.

A similar situation happened to the disciples as they traveled with Jesus. A fierce storm developed that threatened to swamp them, and they were in real danger.” (Luke 8:22-23)

“The disciples woke Jesus up, shouting, ‘Master, Master, we’re going to drown!’”

Like the disciples, I was in danger and terrified. My guide and expert wouldn’t wake up. I didn’t know if he was sick or lazy but either way, I desperately needed help from another source. I realized something had to change. “Stop and think!” I said out loud. After a minute, I remembered how grandpa carefully showed me everything. I just mentally needed to retrace his lessons.

First, “take in the nets.” I leaned over the side and grabbed: “Whoa, these nets are heavy!” I thought. Slowly, inch by inch, the nets were pulled up and placed on the deck. It wasn’t long before I was rewarded with the sight of shrimp, hundreds of shrimp.

Fear turned to wonder as the hold was soon filled. I looked over at grandpa with newfound pride, but I could tell by the loud snoring, he was still fast asleep. My fear returned. Now what?

“So Jesus rebuked the wind and the raging waves. The storm stopped and all was calm! Then he asked them, ‘Where is your faith?’”

Grandpa told me the next step while we were heading toward the fishing spot: “Stay close to the buoys. They will guide you safely home.”

With a silent prayer I turned the boat toward what I hoped would be the right direction. Fortunately, it wasn’t long before I saw a familiar buoy ahead. Soon I saw the comforting vision of the shoreline in the distance. As the boat glided steadily through the water toward home, I felt a surge of pride. Glancing at grandpa, I noticed he was no longer snoring but there was a trace of a smile on his face.

Blacky never admitted it but others later told me: “It was his way of testing me, and I passed.”

Occasionally, you may find yourself in deep trouble with help seemingly miles away. You can panic, or abandon ship or you can: stop, pray and mentally retrace lessons already learned; grab hold of the nets with all your strength and pull; don’t give up and don’t lose faith; say a prayer and turn the boat in the right direction; continue looking for the buoys to guide you safely home.

Blacky is in heaven now, but while writing this story I found new appreciation for the creative ways he loved and nurtured me. Because of his test, I discovered newfound strength, and with his loving encouragement I found courage. Thanks, grandpa.

REV. LARRY E. DAVIES can be reached at larrydavies@sowingseedsoffaith.com.