I love being around water. In fact, it's a part of my most treasured memories. In my mind, I can go back even now to the 1960s, lying on an feather stuffed matress . . .
It was four o’clock in the morning and my granddaddy is leaning over me trying to coax me out of the bed where I slept. As a child, I was a hard sleeper, especially at that time of the morning. "Get up son, we’re going fishing!"
Sleepily I stumble to my feet and put on my clothes. That would be the last time he would ever have difficulty getting me out of bed to go fishing with him. I was about to meet a mistress who would capture my heart for a lifetime.
We drive the ninety minutes from Savannah, GA to Pomona Lake. My cousins, Eddie and Mike, are crammed into the front seat with my granddaddy and me. The back windows in his blue Plymouth Valiant are rolled down. Bamboo poles wrapped with lines and adorned with red and white floats stick out of the car. The back seat is filled with trot lines wrapped around square wooden frames. There is a big galvanized tub in the trunk of the car to bring home the treasures we will pull in from beneath the still waters of the lake. An adult man may earn a lot of money in his lifetime, but one has to be a young boy to possess this kind of wealth.
After arriving at the lake and setting our trot lines in the water, we return to our campsite at the water’s edge. The crickets, frogs and katydids who welcomed us a few hours earlier are now hushed by their anticipation of dawn. In those ephemeral moments which are neither night nor day, we four sit together on the dock talking and laughing and waiting for the sun.
Our conversation might appear to be superficial to the casual observer, but something is happening at a deeper level that took me many years to understand. In that isolated setting at those moments in time, we shared our lives together. It was communion pieced together not through words, but a union forged by three young cousins receiving unconditional love from their granddaddy. We had nothing to offer in that context except our childlike ability to receive from a man who found great joy in sharing himself with his offspring.
That interaction pictures the essence of our walk with Christ. It isn’t the rote prayers we mindlessly recite which connects us to God. Nor does our religious activity join us to him any more than three boys trying to fish bound them to their granddaddy. It is the willingness to simply receive his unconditional love. There will be both words and actions, but the essence of the relationship is in our receiving all that He offers.
We had no resources to offer our granddaddy when we fished. We ran over trot lines with the trolling motor. We tangled our fishing lines. We turned over the minnow bucket. We dropped his reel into the lake. It was quite obvious that our granddaddy just wanted our company, not our abilities. (That’s how it is between God and you.)
With the rising of the sun we boarded our little fishing boat and with the help of a small trolling motor inched our way toward the trot lines. We were seldom disappointed when we checked the lines. "Look at it! It’s a big as a baby!" my Granddaddy exclaimed as if were the first time in his life he had seen a big fish.
Four decades later, I still smile about it - not the big fish, but his response to sharing the experience with us. I’m sure he wouldn’t have reacted the same way if he had caught the fish while he was alone. He took pleasure in our joy while himself being the catalyst, if not the very source of our joy at that moment.
I have come to discover that same quality in my heavenly Father. He often takes me to the place of blessing, sets me in the right place to be blessed, baits the hook, tells me to pull in the blessing and then becomes deliriously happy right along with me as I enjoy the benefits He has provided! On days I don’t catch any fish, nothing changes between Him and myself. Catching fish may be my priority, but just being with me is His.
I didn’t know in those days that God was beginning to teach me about Himself through the water, my granddaddy and my cousins. Of the four of us, two have since gone on to heaven, but I’ll never forget the elements of an authentic life that began to be gently laid within me in those days.
I must admit that the days of youth are gone. Now I’m a man rushing toward the 60 year mark. I battle lower back pain and an expanding waistline. Many years have passed since the intuitive insight gleaned at that lake has become actual knowledge in my mind, but the matrix for understanding unconditional love was partially formed there. Thanks, granddaddy.
Will you pause as you finish this article and reflect on the great love your heavenly Father has for you? You bring Him great pleasure. What He wants more than anything from you is just you! Don’t worry about how many fish you catch or how many times you knock the minnow bucket over in the boat. Those aren’t the big issues to Him. He just wants you to enjoy being with Him. Your Father has an exciting journey awaiting you, so just relax and enjoy the day He has planned.