I get to laugh as I share this week’s devotion. On Sunday, August 16, Andy’s son, Jackson, asked me to take him fishing the next day. School didn’t start till Wednesday, so I figured this might be a last chance this summer for fishing with a grandchild. After making arrangements with Jackson I contacted Josh and Erin to see if any of their kids also wanted to go fishing with me. Emma, Henry, and Annie were all excited to go. So, “Poppy” and 4 grandchildren 11 to 8 set out around 9:00 a.m. on Monday morning, August 17. That was a lot of grandkids for one grandpa.
I later posted on Facebook that I talked to a couple of guys who drifted by us in a boat that day. Our lines were snagged and I told them. “We’re snagged. I’ve got 4 of my grandkids with me. I’m not sure if I’m blessed . . . or crazy.” I knew my situation included some of both. Actually, that snag was one of probably 10 or 15 snags that day. I also untangled about 25 or 35 tangles in the line. And, I worked hard to maneuver the boat, while herding the grandkids and my dog. There were some times of chaos and frustration.
I pray there was also some lasting memories for my grandchildren. I know that I heard some memorable lines from their mouths. Jackson “reeled in” the first fish. We had anchored in the river and were casting at some silver salmon under some trees along the shore. But there was another temptation. Multiple schools of pink salmon were swimming in plain view. I told the kids we didn’t want these ugly fish with their humped backs and mouths that had turned into beaks. But, then I watched as Jackson reeled his line back from the shore where the silver salmon were swimming and seemed to let his line go right through the pinks. Chaos erupted as he snagged one of these ugly fish in the back. We netted the fish and released it. However, I believe that Jackson’s excitement inspired some of the others.
Later, at another fishing hole with lots of silver salmon, I tried to get Jackson to fish from a location where he could cast the lure toward where the silvers were swimming. Jackson’s reply was, “I just want to catch one more pink, Poppy.” O well. He thought he knew better than me.
But, 8 year old Annie was the one really mesmerized by these ugly fish swimming at her feet. There was a school of about 10-12 pink salmon swimming just off shore from where she stood. She couldn’t resist. I told her, “Annie, If you cast the line right out there, you’ll find salmon we want to keep.” My 8 year old granddaughter looked at me with an expression that told me she knew better than I did. “You fish your way, Poppy, and I’ll fish mine.” She snagged and dragged in 3 pink salmon. Sigh.
That night our whole family of 13 ate a silver salmon Emma had caught. While eating I shared some stories, including Annie’s words. Everyone laughed. Kathy said, “You need to write a devotion about that.” I thought about it. (The grandkids had their stories about Poppy too.) A couple of nights later as we were going to bed a version of Annie’s words came up again. “You do it your way, Poppy, I’ll do it mine.” Kathy said, “That’s the way we speak to God sometimes. We think we know what we’re doing, but it doesn’t work very well.”
There has always been something inside humans which causes us to think that we know best, even when our thoughts and desires are different than God’ guidance. Adam and Eve listened to Satan, thinking they knew better than God about the forbidden fruit. The people of Israel had God as their leader and judges and prophets as His spokesmen. But, the Israelites wanted to be like other countries. They wanted a king. They thought they knew better than God. Later Jesus told his disciples about how He would fulfill His heavenly Father’s plan to save the people of a sinful and rebellious world, “21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” But, Peter and the other disciples did not like the sound of Jesus’ words, nor what this would seem to mean for their friend and leader. You know Peter’s response. ‘And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.’” (Matthew 16:21-22) Peter’s ideas were different from those of the Lord concerning the saving work of the promised Messiah. Peter was wrong. Then, in my devotions this past Monday I read 1 Corinthians 1 and 2. In that Scripture reading I found this verse. “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-19) The cross seems foolishness to our world, but it is God’s wisdom and power.
I know that there are also times when I personally question God and His wisdom. “Lord, why are you allowing this to happen?” And, in the world around me I hear many who think that God and His word are out of touch, irrelevant, or even harmful. However, I have learned, first, that I do not have all wisdom. More importantly, I have learned that God’s wisdom is higher and greater than mine. In His wisdom our heavenly Father sent His Son, Jesus, for us. In the wisdom of our Lord, Jesus came as a sacrifice, who would be crucified, and die, . . . and RISE. It was hard for the Peter and the disciples to understand God’s plan. But, imagine if Jesus had listened to Peter and His words and had not been crucified. There would be no forgiveness, no salvation. Wisdom teaches us to listen to and believe in our Lord.
One of my grandkids did listen really well. As I said, Emma caught a nice silver salmon. Emma cast where the silver salmon were located. She even listened about keeping her line tight when she had a fish on her line. When the fish was scooped into the net, the hook dropped out of the fish’s mouth right away. We ate fish that night because Emma listened.
I had asked the question, “Am I blessed or crazy?” My brother Stephen replied, “Blessed or crazy — it’s called love!” I pray my grandkids have some memories of love from that day of fishing with Poppy. And maybe we also learned that listening and following directions is wise. We especially want to listen to and follow our Lord.