In July of 2001, Kjell Wilhelmsen was fishing for salmon on the Gaula River in Norway. What he saw in the water took precedence. It was Jens Ovesen, a 246 pound man, who had been swept away by a strong current. Wilhelmsen had fished that river for a quarter-century, so he knew the movements of that current. He ran across a bridge and waited for Ovesen to come his direction. Then, with his homemade lure, Wilhelmsen caught the burly 60-year-old by his rubber waders on his first cast. He “used every fishing trick he knew to reel the big man without breaking his light line” (via Associated Press, 7/29/01).
Whatever previous fishing stories Kjell had, this one topped them all. How often does a fisherman catch a person? Jesus calls for it. He tells His disciples, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Mat. 4:19). How does one succeed at such audacious angling? Much like Wilhelmsen did. Experience is a tremendous help. Fishermen hone their skill by many trips and tries. Knowing the waters is also crucial. Fishermen must learn tides, currents, and trends. Then, there is the effort and desire required. Being willing to exert the energy, whatever it takes, in pursuit is essential. What about landing the catch? It’s one thing to get a bite, but another to land it.
God wants us fishing for men. What will it take? Practice. Experience. Knowledge. Patience. Desire. Wisdom. Endurance. Jesus gave His disciples some early “man fishing” tips by example. In Matthew 4, after calling Peter, Andrew, James, and John, He taught in their synagogues (where the fishing was done), proclaimed the gospel, showed interest in people, and helped them (23-24). How much time are we spending at the “fishing hole,” fishing for men?