Fishing

“Fishing on the Rappahannock,” © Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

© 2015 Lynn Abbott

I don’t know all the details. But I can certainly imagine. After all, the story became absolutely legendary over Christmas ham and mashed potatoes.

And I never forget a good story.

Of course, Dad’s tales especially fascinated me. And this one was no exception.

You see, for a seven-year-old, mealtime was always an unwanted and undesirable interruption. After all, there were just so many more interesting things to do.

Thus, when my maternal Grandmother told me I must finish the dreaded green peas before I could be excused from the table, Dad stepped in to save my day with a story and a grin.

“Did I ever tell you about my mom and the puppy?” he began.

“Tell it again, Dad!”

“Well, of course, your aunts and I always wanted a puppy,” he launched. “And so we were completely delighted with the somewhat emaciated and sorry excuse for a pup that showed up in our household. My mother, as always, took charge.”

I nodded enthusiastically.

“That puppy, in her estimation, must be fattened up. Her compassionate heart broke to see such a sad creature. She loved that pup nearly as much as we did. She was always giving him good things to eat. ‘Eat, puppy dog; eat!’ she’d lovingly chide.”

“And then what, Dad?” I sat on the edge of my maple, Windsor chair.

“Well, of course, a puppy will eat whatever you put in front of him. And so, he would eat. Then, she would give him more. ‘Eat puppy dog; eat!’ And he ate and ate and ate…”

“And?” I said beginning to squirm with excitement, anticipating the coup d’etat…the clinching argument, my rescue.

“And still she said, ‘Eat, puppy dog; eat!'” Dad said, relishing the moment.

“And he ate and he ate and he ate some more. In fact, a puppy never knows when to stop eating. And, I’m sorry to say, that he ate himself to death.”

I looked with triumph upon my other grandmother.

“‘Eat puppy dog; eat!” Dad repeated, with twinkling mischief in his eyes.

Everyone but my grandmother burst out laughing.

“And still she said, ‘Eat, puppy dog; eat!'”

Come to think of it, sometimes I’m a bit like that puppy.   Well, maybe not with food. I still dislike green peas.

However,  I certainly overdo a lot of other good things.

When someone invites me to be a part of some activity, to reach out to others, to help out with a project, I enthusiastically say “yes!” Again and again,  I bite off more than I can chew.

Eat, puppy dog, eat.

Before I know it, I carry too great a load.  I stagger under the weight of the commendable.

Scrambling day and night, I barely tread water.

And there is always just that one more worthy cause or activity.  One more need to fill.

Eat, puppy dog, eat.

You betcha. I run from activity to activity; project to project… pond to pond, looking for my place in this world.

I long to be of service to Abba.  I wish to lift others. I want to reach my world for Christ.  After all, life is short.  With what little time I have, I hope to touch as many hearts as I can.

And so I drop my fishing line in numerous and scattered places.  I cast my net on diverse waters.

Quite frankly, I exhaust myself with the effort.

Maybe you can relate.

Yet, that internal voice repeatedly says, Eat, puppy dog, eat.

Before I know it, I carry too great a load.  I stagger under the weight of the commendable.

I suppose that’s why I love the story of Eutychus.

Although Eutychus is mentioned but briefly in the book of Acts, those five, dedicated verses remind me that Abba loves the weary.

Eutychus’ grace encounter began simply enough.  He attended a gathering of believers who sat under the teaching of the apostle Paul.

On that particular occasion,  Paul knew that he would leave Troas  the following day; thus, he spoke until midnight.

Of course, in today’s post Edison world, working late might not seem particularly unusual.  In early A.D., however, burning the midnight oil was quite extraordinary.

Eager to learn more of Abba, the believers nevertheless stayed.  And Paul taught.

Seated on the window sill of the crowded room, Eutychus struggled to remain awake.

A full day’s activity, the dim lighting, the lateness of the hour–all conspired against him.

Luke, the author of Acts, writes that Eutychus was “sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on.”

I jest not.  That’s exactly what it says: “as Paul talked on and on.”

Luke’s description creates a humorous mental picture:  I picture Paul– passionately preaching– and poor Eutychus, intermittently nodding off.

Seated on the window sill of the crowded room, Eutychus struggled to remain awake.

I’m sure that Eutychus had put in a long workday before Bible study. Thus, as the hour grew late, he finally succumbed to the sand man’s gentle push …

And fell from the third story.

Gasp.  The believers must have rushed to the street level.  Luke reports that although they picked Eutychus up, it was too late.

Eutychus didn’t survive.  But that’s where Grace stepped in.

Abba, through Paul, wrapped His arms around Eutychus.  There were no words of  recrimination.  No one said, “You should have chosen a better seat or had another cup of coffee.”

Tired?  Feeling overwhelmed and scattered?

Eutychus’ experience demonstrates that Abba not only loves us, but He also understands our physical limitations.

And so it was.  Grace intervened that night on a street in Troas.

Paul, in fact, reassured the other believers: “Do not be alarmed…He’s alive,” (Acts 20:10).

Abba miraculously raised a weary young man from the dead.  He met a tired, young believer’s needs.

Eutychus’ experience demonstrates that Abba not only loves us, but He also understands our physical limitations.

We have the promise in Isaiah 40: “Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength…”

The operative words here, of course, are “those who wait for the LORD…”

Unfortunately, I struggle in the “waiting.” I generally get myself into a muddle, running here and there.

Of course, in my enthusiastic, well-intentioned hurry, I do cast my net in good places.

I see needs and impulsively jump in … In this way, I resemble Peter.

After the resurrection, Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James, John and two other others had returned to Galilee.

Although Christ had appeared to them, the disciples were uncertain about what they were to do next.

Peter decided it was time to do something and thus, announced to the others, “I am going fishing.”

The operative words here, of course, are “those who wait for the LORD…”

Fishing seemed a good move.  After all, Peter and several of the others knew how to do that. And it must have been comforting to be back in Galilee where everything started.

However, despite their well-intentioned efforts and diligent work, they caught nothing.

They fished all night.  Even so,  their nets came back empty.

Nothing. Nada.

As day was breaking, a voice called from the beach: “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?”

Obviously not.

Jesus, of course, knew that and offered direction for those sincere  yet discouraged fisherman.

“Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you will find a catch,” Christ told them.

Those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles…

Peter and his friends cast their nets, and the catch was so great they could not haul it in.

John said, “It is the Lord.” And with renewed strength, Peter swam to shore.

That’s right.  Sometimes I grow weary and tired because, although I throw my net in good waters, I haven’t clearly heard my Savior’s call.

In my eagerness, I have launched.    But it isn’t long before I realize I’m in over my head.

Sometimes I grow weary and tired because, although I have thrown my net on good waters, I haven’t waited for my Savior’s call.

Grace sees my heart’s desire and yet, also understands my weariness.

And Abba lovingly calls, “Cast your net on the right-hand side of the boat…”

Maybe, like me, you have been living life on the freeway.  Perhaps,  “Eat, puppy dog, eat?” sums up your days, too.

Abba deeply loves “Eutychus,” (Psalm 103:13).  No more spinning wheels.  He calls us to the perfect fishing spot.

Yes, there is grace for the weary.  Restorative grace.

Been up fishin’ all night?  Sitting on the sill with Eutychus?  Or casting that net in every  known fishing hole?

Abba promises rest and renewed strength for those who wait on Him.

In fact, we can be sure that when we cast our nets where Jesus directs, we will “run and not get tired…walk and not become weary,” (Isaiah 40:31).

And the catch will be greater than any we could ever imagine, (Ephesians 3:20).

“He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power,”~ Isaiah 40:29