Teach Your Sons How To Fish And They’ll Never Go Hungry

I took my sons fishing today to a spot where I used to travel on my bike with my friends. I had two specific spots I stood at which were favourites of mine at their age. The funny part is that not much has really changed since my visit in the mid 90s. The parking area was the same, the trees and river unchanged.

I thought it funny how there are certain things in life that change while others remain the same. As I peered into the water a reflection of a man with grey stricken hair stared back at me. Even I had changed while the river managed to hold onto whatever youth it always maintained. It was almost as if the river spoke to me saying, “Good to see you back, with your new group of friends.”

My sons were like a fizzy bottle of soda someone had shaken such was their readiness to explode with excitement at the thought of catching a fish. I knew, as most fathers do, that the likelihood of catching one at this time of day, with the specific lures and bait we possessed, was extremely low. The river and I were about the teach the boys the valuable lesson that you can’t always get something just because you want it.

There are moments in life when we have to cast our net more than once if we want to get a big catch. Sometimes the line gets tangled, we think we’ve got that big fish but it’s only a big old worn out wheel of a tractor. At other times we cast our net in the wrong places and bring up nothing but thorns and bramble. That’s the game of life and fishing was about to teach them this and the importance of patience.

We cast our line into the river and my sons were in their element. I was actually surprised they enjoyed it so much as most kids these days seem to care more about the PlayStation or theme parks than they do fishing. I don’t know why but I felt like fishing is that kind of relaxing pastime that todays energetic kids might not be capable of appreciating but I was wrong.

As time grew on and the sun was making its way towards the horizon, they began to kick up a fuss about not making a catch. “Where are all these fish?” They complained. In the world of fishing timing is everything not to mention the kind of lures and bait one uses. I told them that it’s because we are here in the middle of the afternoon, the sun is still too high. The best time for this is dawn and dusk, but even then the river makes no promises.

Then I explained we are not using the right lures and bait. It’s best to use worms for trout as opposed to the big old lures we had that they just wouldn’t be interested in. They huffed a bit but were given that glimmer of hope when I said I’d go home and buy some proper lures and live bait. I told them if we do all this and come at the right time of day, we will increase our chances of a catch. “Patience” I said, “and the trick is not to give up and keep coming back until you get it right. Come prepared next time and who knows?.”

As we made our way home in the car their bellies rumbled with hunger so I took them to a fast food joint. I thought about how fishing is a bit like prayer. When we wonder why our prayers go unanswered it’s usually because we’ve come unprepared.

It’s like the guy who prays to win the lottery until one night he loses his patience with the Lord. “For crying out loud do me a favour and answer my prayer.” God replies, “Do me a favour and buy yourself a ticket.” How can we pray and expect to get what we want with a heart filled with anger? The prayer is right, but the love, and the timing is all wrong.

Another part of the day spent fishing made me reflect on how it is a bit like evangelizing. You see, different types of bait and lures are used for different types of fish. Just as no one fish is similar, no one person is ever the same and so methods of evangelizing others are often different and unique to the individual.

If you want to catch a Piranha use raw chicken. Trout? Use a worm. You want to evangelize a kid hardened by the culture of the dangerous street he grew up in? Talk to him in the language he understands. Want to help a rich well dressed and well spoken person into the Church? Dress and talk in the same manner he does. Strike common ground with others as you do a fish and you’ll catch one. Get yourself the perfect bait, the ultimate lure.

Does she like photography? Get yourself a camera and share in her interest for photography. Music? Better start learning how to read the scales if you want to bag yourself a beautiful soul for the Lord and score big. Jesus did this with the disciples. He made them throw that net and granted them a big catch. He used the very thing they loved (fishing) to strike common ground with them all. St.Paul himself said he became a Jew to a Jew in order to save one.

Even with the greatest of lures, bait and the perfect time of day, some fish don’t want to be caught. There’s always a stubborn fish out there somewhere hiding in the rocks who doesn’t take the bait. But with enough time and patience he will come out of the rock he’s under. It’s no different with evangelizing others. Even with all the right timing, bait and lures, some people can’t be bothered. Time and patience is all it takes.

Anyhow, I guess you could say that today I taught my sons how to fish but also how to pray. As the famous proverb goes “‘Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’” If we teach our sons how to pray the right way and with the right heart, they’ll never go spiritually hungry.

If we teach them in advance not to expect to be handed everything they pray for even if the spiritual disposition and timing is good, they won’t be disappointed when they go home hungry. Instead, they will wake up the next morning with more eagerness than the day before to get what it is they want, and when they do, they’ll never take it for granted.

When they came home they devoured all the food their mother had made in addition to the Burger King. All that fishing had given them an appetite you wouldn’t believe. As I type this now and finish up, I must say this to all you Dads out there. My Father only ever took me fishing once with him, but it was a day I never forgot and to this day stands tall and vivid as a great memory every time I think about it.

Spend as much time with your sons as is humanly possible, because you only get to do it all once. And when they’re lying in their room at college or going through hard times in their older years, these memories will bring them great comfort. They’ll never go hungry for your love or be starved of your presence even when you’re 6 feet under and long gone. Yes, teach your sons how to fish and feed them with a lifetime supply of your love and good memories.

God bless

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