The Next-Wave Ezine: Issue #94

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I went fishing the other day and do I have a fishing story...
I went fishing the other day and do I have a fishing story, maybe even a miraculous fish story. It began on a normally abnormal day in my current life. I was going fishing as a means of escape, an escape from the reality of where I am right now. I went salmon fishing on the Clackamas River in Gladstone, Oregon. For you fishing addicts I was at the "bowling alley" hole. For those of you familiar with this fishing hole, the "bowling alley" hole and "combat fishing" go hand in hand. Let me explain. There is a small stretch of river where the current is very strong, the bank is covered with rocks and where people fishing stand literally so close to each other you can touch each other. A definite weird thing to do while fishing, for reasons of manliness and line tangling. Anyway, back to the miraculous fish story. I say miraculous because I am able to write about it today.

First, after many untangling of lines, I hooked a salmon. When you hook a salmon here and you are standing so close to each other for 300 yards up and down the bank, it makes for an interesting moment. First the salmon swam upstream about 100 yards for about 5 to 7 minutes. So I ran after the fish stumbling over the rocks, yelling "fish on!" to those fishing, getting them to reel in their lines and move out of the way. Soon the salmon stops swimming upstream and guess what? It turns around and runs downstream, past those guys who got out of my way going upstream, over the same rocky bank, back to my original spot. But, it didn't stop there, no, it continues another 200 yards downstream, through twice as many guys who need to reel in their lines and move. So, finally, 300 yards later, fish to the bank, it was 'foul-hooked' and I could not keep it. Miracle #1, about 100 guys didn't kill me for making them reel in and move out of the way for a salmon that could not be kept.

Later, I was fishing and a guy two people down from me snagged his fishing rig on the bottom. As he was yanking on it to getting it loose, his about 1-ounce lead weight comes flying out of the river and hits me square in the temple. It drives me to my knees, my nose runs, my eyes tear-up the guy comes over picks his gear off my shirt and goes back to fishing. No sorry, no oops, nothing. Miracle #2, I don't die and I don't kill this guy. I still have a mark and a lump on my head as I type.

Then, yes it doesn't stop yet, I hooked a salmon and it began to go downstream, I yell "fish-on" and "going downstream. The guy immediately downstream from me who can't speak English well, looks at me and I motion for him to reel in and move. We collide, his line wraps around my line, my line goes slack, the salmon flips off. Miracle #3 I didn't break something and kill the guy next to me.

Then, yep I hooked another salmon. Same thing again, it began to run downstream, I yell "fish-on" and "going downstream" but his time I look right into the eyes of the guy standing next to me and loudly motion for him to reel in and move out of the way. Do you know what he does? He looks me in the eyes like a deer caught in the headlights. What happens next? We near collide again, he puts his fishing rod down to the ground, I step on his rod, slip and fall, my line goes slack, the salmon flips off and his rod is broken. Miracle #4 I didn't and he didn't break something or I didn't kill him again!

I left the river that day reflecting on the miracles, well minor miracles, and wondering why? What do I call miracles in my life? What are miracles, really? What should I see and qualify as a true blue 100% miracle? Now maybe if the guys I was fishing by/with were cooperative and helpful, would that qualify as a miracle? Or if the salmon I didn't catch just jumped out of the river into my hands, would that qualify as a miracle? What is a miracle?
Makes me think of another miraculous fishing story. Do you know the one? Its in John 21. It's where Peter and the gang are out fishing. They have all returned to their old jobs because Jesus has been killed. They like me, have had a bad fishing experience. No luck, fished all night and no fish.
There they are, in their boat, no fish and they see a figure on the shore, Jesus, only they don't know it is Jesus. They yell greetings and Jesus tells them to throw their nets out one more time, where they have thrown it too many times that night. So they throw their nets out again, and guess what? Their nets are so full; they can't bring it into the boat. Now that's a real miracle!!! Yeah, even my bible entitles John 21 as "Jesus and the Miraculous Catch of Fish". So a miracle is when something extraordinary, huge, unearthly happens, right? I mean that is the reason for this story and for Jesus getting the fish into the net, right?

Well, let's look at the rest of the story. . . After the fish are caught, Peter and his friends look at the man and realize now, it is Jesus, and guess what Peter does? Jumps into the water and swims to meet Jesus. Sort of kind of like Peter, eh? Always doing the impulsive thing, very emotional, open his mouth and insert his foot. Saying things like, "Never, no one will ever hurt you", basically saying he would personally take care of Jesus' well being. But later, what does Peter do when Jesus is condemned? Abandons, denies and runs away from Jesus. That is where we find Peter, he and all his friends.

Now back to the story. . . Peter meets Jesus on the beach and the others join them. 153 fish are counted, only big ones too. A meal is served and then there is a conversation, a personal conversation between Peter and Jesus. Ever read it? After all the failure, denial and running Peter has done Jesus restores Peter to being an apostle. Can you believe it? Jesus redeems Peter, but isn't that the work and life of Jesus? Redemption? Isn't this the real miracle of this story, redemption? Isn't this the reason for all of the miracles Jesus did?

Think about it. If the miracles Jesus did were for show, why didn't he really do it big? Like pull off a Superman type of show, fly around, lift up boats, leap buildings. Now that would really attract a crowd, eh? But that didn't happen. If you look at the miracles done by Jesus you will always find redemption as the source. Healing the lame, redeeming the lame to walk; healing the blind, redeeming their sight; making wine out of water, redeeming a family's social standing.

After thinking about my "miraculous" fishing story, the real miracle would have been if I would have done something to redeem the man who assaulted me with his fishing gear or the man who I collided with (not once but twice). But what did I do? I looked for a miracle that would be all about ME, when I am beginning to think a real miracle is really about me being available to be used to redeem someone, some thing, some area that is broken, like a fishing pole maybe. Sounds trite and even little, but isn't it a beginning? Trying to see miracles of Gospel proportion are all about redeeming some of the brokenness of the world we live in.

Isn't that the reason for the Gospel? For miracles of Gospel proportion? Redemption? Redemption of eternal proportion and redemption of the brokenness of our broken world? Talk to me. What do you think?

Craig Stonehocker the husband of Una, father to Jody, Wes, Emily and Chase and lead pastor to the Church at River's Edge in Tualatin, OR.




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Next-Wave Ezine - Issue #94
Issue Credits
Cover Story

Suggestions for Critics of the Emerging Church
Featured Article: At the Top
Oh, Spencer
Featured Article: Spotlight
Brand Name Jesusâ„¢
Church Culture
Are the Popular Methods of Doing Church Working?
What’s a Faithmap?
Imagination and God’s Future
Kingdom Living
Paying to Follow Christ
Real Life
Church Life
Equal Time on Video Venues
Off Broadway
I went fishing the other day and do I have a fishing story...
Eckhart 11
Adventures in Emerging
The question of the hour...