Thursday, November 14, 2013

Lesson Learned

tim stone - fly fishing
Finally, I got it right.  Not every time but at least a few times.  I had waded out into the river with my fly rod.  I was less interested in catching a fish and more interested in just casting this thing right.  From 10 to 15 feet, I had it down pretty good.  But whenever I tried beyond that it was truly an adventure.  In the past, I had hooked my hat, hit my sunglasses with the fly hook, and tangled the line many times.  So, here I was determined to get this thing right finally.  Just like every time before, I struggled.  I just couldn't cast my line further than a few feet without making a mess of the line.  Then, I looked down river to see two veteran fly fishermen.

One was an elderly man who started on the shore line, casting with absolute perfection.  It wasn't long and like me he was knee deep in the water casting like I only wished I could.  I watched him.  I studied his form. He was like a conductor, directing a symphony.  Back and forth he waved his fly rod and his line flowed through the air in a flawless rhythm. I began to mimic his moves, trying to reproduce his perfect form.  I would mess up, then watch him again, then give it another shot.  Over and over I repeated this process until finally my 15 foot cast turned into 25 feet,  then to 30 then to  40.  It wasn't perfect every time, but by the time I was done, I was doing it right more times than I was doing it wrong. I went from being frustrated to having a blast.  Time and time again I cast that line out there without ever even considering catching a fish. 

After an hour and half, I made my way back to the shore.  I collected my gear and as I walked to my car I glanced several more times at my "mentor" and his flawless form.  I didn't get his name. I didn't even officially meet him.  There was too great a distance between us to carry on a conversation.  He's probably even completely unaware that he played the role of teacher and mentor that day.  Yet, he did. He taught this beginner fly fisherman how to cast a fly line.

After that experience, I'm left thinking how many times in life have I missed those opportunities to learn from those around me?  In my younger years I was convinced I was so smart and just didn't value many opportunities to learn.  As I grew older, I just failed to recognize the opportunities I had around me to learn. As I read the gospels, I think the disciples were much like that.  They missed so many opportunities to learn.  Jesus, was constantly in teaching mode.  Unlike my "mentor" that day, Jesus was aware there was a group constantly watching Him.  Often He would present a truth to them orally, then follow that up with a hands-on lesson.  Many times they missed both learning opportunities.  For instance, Jesus miraculously fed the multitude.  He pulled off what seemed to be absolutely impossible.  The disciples were wowed by it, but didn't really learn much from it.  Again, Jesus miraculously feeds the multitude.  Again, the disciples are wowed by the miracle but didn't learn much.  Later on, they were in the boat with Jesus and concerned that they had forgotten to bring enough food for themselves to eat.  Do you see the humor in that?  Jesus, has pulled off an incredible miracle twice, by feeding thousands of people with an amount of food that was incapable of feeding even the 12 disciples.  Yet, the disciples are worried that on this occasion that they don't have enough food to eat.  Needless to say, they struggled to learn the lesson that feeding our bellies was no problem for Jesus.

I laugh when I read that story, but I often see myself just like them.  I've missed so many lessons along the way that are right there in front of my nose. The disciples walked with Jesus.  Along that journey they were constantly blown away by all the things He did.  Jesus was indeed a miracle worker.  But, beyond that, He was a teacher, mentor, and guide.  His intent was not just to "wow" the disciples, it was also to teach them.  It was to help change the way they thought, the way they lived, and how they viewed God.  Jesus made a practice of putting the truth right in front of their noses for the purpose of teaching them something. He was less interested in "wowing" them and more interested in changing them.    

I was "wowed" by this veteran fly fisherman.  But, that alone did little for me.  I could have left that afternoon with this complete since of awe over this man's ability to command a fly line.  However, I would still be a frustrated fly fisherman with a complete inability to cast a line further than a few feet.  The disciples were blown away when Jesus fed the multitudes, but were somehow worried that their cupboard was bare.  Wowed but unchanged?  That's not God's idea. God indeed wants us to be in awe of Him, but He also wants to grow us, stretch us, and teach us right smack dab in the middle of those moments of awe. I'm no longer a frustrated fly fisherman poser.  I can cast that fly line with my Wooly Bugger on the end of it and put it where I want to put it.  I loved being wowed by that veteran fly fisherman but I'm more excited with the fact that I've been changed.  Now, time to catch some fish!

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