My childhood is filled with countless memories of my dad and I loaded up in his truck with poles and tackle boxes in the back, windows down with hot summer air blowing on my face, the Rolling Stones playing loud in the speakers, and a sweating Dr. Pepper can in my hand. We’d make our way down the winding back roads of Arkansas looking for the perfect pond or creek to spend our Sunday afternoons in the hopes of bringing home dinner. He always knew where the best fishing spots were.
When he first started taking me fishing with him I was too little to bait my own hook and cast my own line into the water. I’d stand by his side watching close as he tied tiny knots with his rough and calloused fingers. Then I’d stare in amazement as he effortlessly flicked his wrist sending my lure to the perfect spot where he knew the big ones liked to hang out. After the lure dropped beneath the surface of the water he’d hand me the rod, “now reel it in nice and slow”, he say as he turned his attention to his own rod and reel.
As I got older, and more independent, I insisted that I could do it myself. I’d fumble through a knot that I’d pray would hold, trying not to let him see me wince every time I caught my finger on the sharp barb of the hook I was trying to attach to the invisible line. Finally, I’d stand up with confidence and fling my lure into the pond, almost always with an extremely loud “thunk” as it hit the water just a few feet from where I stood on the shore.
After several years of watching dad out of the corner of my eye I learned how to tie a knot almost as good as his, and when I flicked my wrist my bait slid beneath the surface with a barely audible drop. We’d stand on the shore a few feet apart, flicking, winding, resetting, and flicking again. Almost always in silence because “fish get spooked easily” which could be true, or it could just be that he knew I’d talk his ear off if he ever let me get started.
After an undisclosed amount of time, dad would slowly bring in his line and sigh, “okay, I’m done. Let’s head home.” and we’d pack up and head back down the dirt road towards home. I never knew when he’d be “done” or what determined “done”. I used to think it was the number of fish we had caught, or that the fish weren’t biting, or that his feet were tired from standing still so long… but I never was able to figure out what factors led to our fishing expedition being done.
Now as an adult, I think I know. He was done because the repetitive task of casting had done its job.
Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you.” I know the use of the word cast in this verse is not referring to rod and reel and bait and tackle kind of casting. But whenever I hear this verse I picture myself standing on the bank of a pond, my dad and I silently casting over and over again.
The thing I love about this image of casting with my dad is that it reminds me that casting isn’t a one-time thing. It’s an active process. You send the line out, and bring it back in, only to send it out again. And if that’s not a picture of how I present my cares to the Lord I don’t know what is.
I wish I had the faith to give something to God once and be done with it. But I almost always need time to work through the process of giving my cares to Him. I want to talk it out, think it through, look at it from every angle. So I do. And the amazing thing is… He lets me. As patient with me as my dad was when I was learning to fish, God stands with me and lets me cast and reel as many times as I need to until I’m done, settled in the fact that He will sustain me. Confident in knowing that He is my source, and that He can be trusted to hold this for me.
There’s nothing like the ride home after a full day of fishing. The cool air coming in the windows, dad and I singing at the top of our lungs, me rolling my eyes at another lame joke, and lots of laughter. As we’d pull into the drive way my dad would always say the exact same thing, regardless of if the cooler was full of fish or empty, “that was a good day of fishing”.
And it was.