Some follow. Stalkers. They spot their prey, stay in sight until vulnerability maxes out, then they act. Following the trout stocking truck, they wait until it leaves and throw their line and Power Baited hook into the stream, in dreams of landing trout. Many trout. Large trout. Trout stunned by being transplanted from their comfortable home into a planting truck and then dumped into a frigid stream. Easy trout. Like the pic above.
And while I did that some in my younger years, that embarrasses me today. California plants millions of trout each year, and millions of fisherfolk eagerly stalk them. Fishing in many waters, especially on opening day, often means fighting for elbow room on a stream or boat room on a lake. The problem with freshly planted trout—they’ve not been there long enough to recognize the danger of a barbed hook. I’ve seen them bite on wild rose leaves.
So, to find smarter trout and fewer fisherfolk, I try to avoid the crowds. To find canny trout that aren’t spooked by people tromping down the streamside. On my Rock Creek trip last fall, in three days I saw the total of two other people fishing. But that requires some hiking—into the backcountry, or to where the stream loops far from the road. And it pays off. In seven hours of fishing, I landed 22 trout.
Paul did the same with his ministry, and perhaps we should consider copying him, “It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known...But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, I plan to… go to Spain.” (Romans 15:20-24). Paul got away from the campgrounds and roadside streams to find untouched areas.
Maybe we could focus more on those who haven’t been exposed to Jesus. Maybe we can move outside our comfort zone to those often most difficult to reach. To those most in need of God’s love and grace. A friend resigned from his pastorate to found a motorcycle club to reach Harley riders. A retired woman friend started a ministry going into prisons. Several Facebook friends, wounded by church experiences and now adamantly anti-God, are being ministered to with grace by followers, and I doubt the first group sees that as ministry. But kind words to those who sometimes don’t deserve them serve as acts of grace.
Fishing and following—in both, we can sometimes do more in finding untouched territory.
Kick Starting the Application
Think of a time you went into fresh territory for God and it went well. What result came? Think of a time when you did the same and it didn’t go well? Did you sense God’s presence during it? Is there a task God is whispering to you to move beyond your comfort zone? What keeps you from doing that? What best helps you to obey?