Jonathan Rockey

Charles Dickens begins his book, “A Tale of Two Cities”, with an oft-quoted assertion about the time of the French Revolution. “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” Well, to a lesser degree, I had a Monday like that last week.

I was fishing on the Little Susitna River with my daughter, Mary, on June 28. The river had recently been opened to fishing for king salmon. While on the river I talked with fishing guide, Andy Couch. Andy saw me early in the day, and then much later. So, he asked me if I had been fishing in a specific hole way upstream. Well, the answer was, “No.” But Andy’s question got me to thinking, and dreaming. I had caught my first salmon, my first king salmon in that fishing hole in 1991. But, the spot was indeed a long way upstream, so I had not fished there since 1997. However, Andy’s question put the idea in my mind. I wanted to get back there again.

Sunday afternoon, June 30, not being able to find anyone else to go with me, I put my boat in the water at the Little Su. I had 3 goals. I wanted to find that fishing hole again. I wanted to camp at that hole. And I wanted to catch a king salmon. Well, it took me a while, but I did finally find the fishing hole again, arriving a little after 11:00 p.m. I set up camp and actually enjoyed the sleep I got. Fishing is only allowed between 6:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m., so I got up around 5:30 and made some coffee on the Coleman stove. Then I started fishing. I actually caught a small king salmon around 6:15 a.m.

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That was the best of times.

But, the fish I caught was relatively small for a king salmon, only about the size of a silver. I never took the fish out of the water, removed the hook, and let the salmon swim away. I did have 2 more bites, but I never did actually catch another fish.

It had still been a pretty good day, so I started the boat downstream, fishing and taking care of business on the way. I got back to the Burma Landing boat ramp around 12:30 p.m. As I climbed out of the boat. I reached into my pocket for my cell phone, with pictures from on it from my trip. But, my phone was not in my back pocket. I had tripped in the boat, so I checked out that location. I looked everywhere I could think, but I still could not find the phone. Then I remembered using the bathroom about an hour upstream, not far from that fishing hole. Could my phone be there? Unfortunately, I had already used a lot of gas on my trip and I didn’t think I had enough fuel to go that far upstream again.

That was the worst of times.

Another fishing guide had seen me up the river. We began talking. In our conversation I shared that I had lost my phone, and I thought that I knew where it was. I thought my phone was way upstream, and I would need to go get some more gas to look for it. We talked some more and this other guide, whom I had never met before, told me he had 5 gallons of gas and offered it to me. But, I had used my last check paying launch fee. I had $5.00 cash in my pocket, but not enough to pay for 5 gallons of gas. I told him my predicament and he said, “No, I’ll give you the gas.”

I gratefully accepted his offer for the gas and ran my boat upstream for an hour looking for the place I had stopped. I found where I had gone to the bathroom, and there was the phone laying on the ground right beside the toilet paper. Whew! My good day, turned bad, now turned good again!

Do you know how much this act of kindness helped me? Can you understand how thankful I was? A number of years ago there was a book that became popular, entitled, “Random Acts of Kindness.” I have personally tried to be kind to others, to show kindness. But, this kindness was shown to me and made a difference for good in my life.

In Ephesians 4:32, God moved Paul to write, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Kindness from a Christian shows the love of Jesus to the other person. Kindness received by a Christian reminds us of Jesus’ undeserved love. Our rebellious and sinful lives call for God’s judgement. But, Jesus willingly sacrificed himself so that we might have forgiveness. Jesus died on the cross for us, and rose again, so that we might have the treasures of eternal life. When someone shows us unexpected, undeserved kindness, those acts of mercy remind us of Jesus’ saving kindness.

You might ask, “But, Pastor, that Bible verse talks about “forgiving each other.” Why did you need forgiving?” Well, I had not done something hurtful against the guide who gave me the gas. But, my carelessness caused me to lose my phone. I felt pretty foolish. (Of course, this is not the first time I’ve done something foolish.) The reason the guide had to help me was my careless behavior. But, the guide heard my story. He saw my need. And, he gave me just what I needed at that moment in spite of my foolish actions. And, again, we had not even met each other before this incident.

Have you helped someone with a random act of kindness? Or, has someone ever unexpectedly helped you? Did that kindness remind you of Jesus’ love? Thank you, Lord, for kind people! Thank you even more for Your kindness that You gave us forgiveness and eternal life in Jesus.

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