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Pastor's Corner - Tiber fishing shows God's manifest presence


August 11, 2017

Luke 5:4-11 When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed Him.

There are several fishing stories in the Bible. In Jonah 1:17 the Word says, “But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.” Also in Matthew 17:27 Jesus tells Peter “But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.” And after the resurrection Jesus tells His disciples in John 21:6 “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

Whether we need to learn how to obey Jesus more consistently, learn about our capacity to sin, be bold, witness, follow Jesus better, repent, submit to His Lordship, or experience restoration, the above fishing stories can help teach us along with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Some may think that God does not heal, work miracles, or answer prayer the way He did when Jesus walked upon the earth. I disagree. I have seen and experienced God working in my life and in the lives of others while pastoring for over two decades. The following is a modern day fishing story showing how God still answers prayer. The author is David Milam.

“I’d like to share my testimony of God’s manifest presence on a fishing trip at Tiber Reservoir. I was fishing one afternoon when one of my fishing poles was pulled out of the boat by a fish. My first thought was, ‘That pole and reel are history — gone forever to the bottom.’ Feeling responsible to at least try to recover my gear I looked in vain for a large treble hook that I always had in my tackle box. When I couldn’t find it I went back to the campground and borrowed a snagging hook from my neighbor.

“Knowing it was a long shot; I had to at least try to snag the line or pole if it was still in the area. I had set the general location on my GPS but with the wind blowing and being several hundred yards from shore I knew that was not going to be pinpoint accurate. Still I had to try.

“It was too late to go back out that evening so I had time to rig up a snagging rod with the treble hook on braided line.

“I had been fishing in an area that dropped off into deep water fairly rapidly so I was doubtful that it was in the area anymore.

“I slept lightly as I was anxious to get out and give it a good effort. I arose early and was focused on my challenge, but the last few years I have made God my first meeting every morning. I had to consciously still myself and I sat down with the Lord. After Scripture reading, praying, and worshiping I set out. I confess that I did not spend the time with Him that I would have at home, but when fishing alone much of my time on the water is focused on His Presence and giving thanks.

“As I walked out of the trailer I did tell God that I felt my efforts had very little chance of being successful and if I were to find the rod and reel it would have to be done by Him. Off I went.

“I casted 360 degrees from the boat in the area of my GPS setting. Having no luck snagging the line or the rod I considered it gone forever. Ever since it left the boat I had not even really been upset or mad — just resigned to the facts. I had been careless and not put it in a rod holder. I had given the required effort to recover, I thought, and was not going to be concerned with it any more. I went back to fishing as that chapter was closed and the lesson learned.

“After catching a couple of perch and a small walleye up the lake, I tried trolling and that proved fruitless. I thought I’d like a fish or two more to make a meal for Carla and me, so I headed back over to where I lost the rod since I had caught fish over there before.

“It was supposed to be a hot day so I decided to get off the lake at 10 a.m. I dropped my baited jigs down at 9:45 a.m. and at five minutes to ten I had a nice fish hit and thought I had a really nice walleye. When it got to the surface I saw that it was about a 2.5-pound sucker with two jigs in its mouth. They were the type I was using-one blue and one pink. Being the analytical type I immediately started thinking how this had happened. The second jig had fishing line attached to it. I was stunned as I reached down and scooped the line up in my hand. When I felt weight on the other end of the line I realized it was my fishing pole. The thought of the coin in the fish’s mouth immediately came to mind and I started loudly praising God, yelling, laughing, and maybe even shed a few tears.

“I called my wife immediately and a friend right after that. I had called them both right after the pole went overboard to seek their sympathy and confess my carelessness.

“Every word of this story is true. I have shared this with many people so far and found that those with no active faith in God have a hard time even thinking that it could have happened because in acknowledging that it is true it begs for an explanation-coincidence or God’s interest in our circumstances.

“I don’t believe in coincidence as coincidence takes more faith in this instance knowing the size of Tiber reservoir and the number of fish in it. If I would have snagged the line or the rod through my efforts God’s hand it would not be as evident. The odds of me snagging it was far better than the same fish coming back to feed on my bait again the next day at a different time of day.

“God took all of the common sense solutions out of the picture so I would not miss His point. Then He brought to memory the tax payment coin given to Peter by a fish. I could go on but then at some point it becomes “me” and my speculation when it needs to be simply what God did. I’ll let the Holy Spirit use it however He will.”


David Milam

Kevin Barsotti

Ark Church


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